A couple of tips for meaningful conversation and deep connection with colleagues around Easter.
Meaningful conversation and deep connection can occur when:
Time is taken to discover and respect the heart of a person,
Listening is genuinely curious and not driven by our desire to turn the conversation to a particular result,
We are authentic,
It is safe for emotions to be present,
Vulnerable thoughts can be shared without being judged, lectured, or unwanted instruction,
When love allows us to hear what the other person needs in the moment, not insist on what we think they need,
Trust is established and maintained.
Some questions to stimulate our conversations with colleagues and friends:
What place does Easter have in your life and family?
Is Easter significant for you? If no, check if there is energy or emotion in the response (e.g. indifference, pain or anger) and follow up with – I sense there is some emotion or indifference there for you, what’s that about for you?
What are your thoughts on the commercialisation of Easter?
What are your thoughts on religious holidays in multicultural Australia?
Is Easter a spiritual time for you?
What are you looking forward to about Easter? What might be difficult for you over the Easter break?
Sometimes big family occasions have extra stresses, what is Easter like at your home?
Taking hot-cross buns, as an example, what do you think about religious symbols such as the cross?
What do you think about the Christian focus on the death of Jesus at Easter as God’s judgment?
Which is more meaningful to you, Christmas or Easter? Tell me more about that.
Easter talks about death and resurrection, do you know anyone who has had a near death experience where they have a sense or vision of life after death? Be willing to be authentic and share vulnerable thoughts about life after death, or Christian teaching that is hard to relate to for lack of direct experience.
As someone from a non-Christian culture/religion, what do you make of Easter celebrations? Ask follow-on questions that draw out their religious and spiritual thoughts and experiences.
Have you had an opportunity to attend an Easter celebration (church) service? If yes, how was that experience for you? If no, I am going to my local church on Friday/Sunday, I would be pleased to take you along and explain what is happening and why it is significant. Perhaps we could have lunch together afterwards.
Most of these questions can also be re-framed for conversations looking back on Easter.
Be genuinely curious and interested in the other person’s experience.
Create questions using words (e.g. religion or spirituality) that are most comfortable for them, not us.
It is really hard to genuinely listen to someone when we have an agenda or need a particular outcome. Be aware (acknowledge) any personal agenda (e.g. wanting someone to attend church). Given that our desire to invite people to church or other events is motivated by love and concern, it is easier to set that agenda aside for a moment if we recognise that genuine love will also be seen in listening deeply in each conversation even if we don’t get to share much or ourselves and our faith. When someone feels heard and respected, most will then give permission for us to share what is important to us.
If we can see there is some emotion, we don’t need to identify what the specific emotion is, just acknowledge that we can see/hear/sense some emotion is present to the person. Deep connection occurs when it is safe for deep or vulnerable emotion to be present and respected.
Ask for God’s guidance in each conversation, especially on when to listen and when to share.
Remember, its OK to take a single step in a conversation. Each safe conversation builds deeper connection.
Remember also to focus on things that we did well in a conversation rather than our thoughts of things that didn’t work so well. For the later, identify one thing that could be done differently in the next conversation.
Finally, we can be present to our conversations in a more relaxed and engaging manner when we let God be responsible for the state each person’s relationship with Him rather than take that responsibility on ourselves.