Friday, June 10, 2016

Why the front step is the right place to talk about change



Welcome to our front step. There are other places to have an important conversation, but not better places. Lives change when people sit side by side on this step and look out at the park while they talk.

Front steps are portals - spaces that mark a transition between one place and another. That's why this front step is such a good place to reflect on change. The space does not change anything in the situation described. It does change the attitude in which that situation can be considered. It invites you to sit far enough outside your life to see it differently, close enough to be back into the thick of it in a step or two.

It's easy to get caught up in what you know and what words you will choose when you want to influence someone else, either to lead them through something or to support them through something. But the research suggests we're putting our focus on the wrong stuff. Most of what we say will be forgotten almost as soon as it is said. But we do remember where we were when something important was said to us, and we do remember how someone's words made us feel. So setting the stage for a conversation is an important part of having the impact you want to have.

This step looks out over traffic to a city park. You can't sit here without being in the middle of work and play, movement and rest. You can't sit here without knowing that life contains complicated elements in relationship. Whether you look at the concrete or the garden, you know that the other is just an eye movement away. A change in perspective is not just possible here; it is inevitable.

I love sitting on this step and opening up to the sidewalks and the traffic and the park. But I love even more taking all that balance and energy and using it to nudge someone towards a tough topic or a raw place that needs care so it can heal. Just outside their awareness, the place reminds them that change is as natural as moving through a doorway. That's what doorways are for.

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