Tough Conversations: What about Covid?
September 15, 2022
September 15, 2022
There’s no denying the proverbial elephant in the room these days: the Covid-19 pandemic, which has added an extra layer of complexity to all of our relationships.
Many of the principles we talk about in these blog articles are purposefully generalized. After all, each of us is an individual facing unique challenges so an emphasis on a response framework allows techniques to be applied skillfully and creatively in our diverse lives. Yet sometimes it’s worth exploring a more specific application of principles, as some experiences are encountered alongside a wider trend.
Back to the Covid elephant in front of us: from a faint and distant beginning, this novel coronavirus arrived firmly on all of our doorsteps sowing seeds of disruption.
Looking out through our peepholes, we answered our unexpected guest’s knock with cautious questions: What are you? How do you get around? Are you going to cause trouble? …And what should we do now that you’re here?
But on the other side of the door, there were no clear answers. At its beginning, none of us knew what the repercussions of this global pandemic would be.
And so we began to uncover answers together; through study, experimentation, experience, and debate. Ideas were put forth, ideas were challenged, and ideas were refined. As our understanding evolved, so too did the virus under our microscopes as variants complicated the situation.
Amidst all of this uncertainty, each of us had to determine our own "best way forward." But we don’t always agree on what’s best, and polarizing ideas seeded discord. The global became personal and divides opened up.
Most of us have stumbled upon these divides firsthand: either online with avatars, at work amongst colleagues, or at home across the table from those closest to us. Even with family, it has become all too common to find ourselves walking away from an interaction muttering, "I absolutely disagree and don’t know how to even talk with you anymore." At least, this is a familiar refrain that we’ve been hearing here at Mediation Services.
What can we do in these stalemates?
There is a saying in conflict management: if you’re having the same conversation three times, then you’re not talking about the right thing. This is something that comes up time and again around heated pandemic topics. And so it begs the question: how can we talk about the right thing?
When it comes to conversations about Covid, generally we can group the quarrelsome topics into two different buckets:
If two people are having a conversation about ideas from differing buckets, it rarely is a discussion that moves forward and very quickly tends towards frustration.
We need to pay very close attention to what we’re talking about. Are we talking about the disease and our understanding of it? Or are we talking about how we are living our life and how we can be together?
One mediation session at a time, we’ve been taking notes on the paths we find forward. They have formed the foundation for an online course we’ve developed around these timely troubles: Covid Conversations: A Roadmap to Existing Together with Opposing Views.
This online course isn’t about changing your mind, or someone else’s for that matter (though there’s the potential for some movement in this regard in the process). Instead, it is geared towards talking and living alongside one another; speaking your truth, listening deeply to other people, and being able to stay in relationship (whether you agree or disagree).
Relationships matter. We are hardwired for connection; we have friends, we have family, and we have those we work with and live alongside in community. These elements will always be with us. As we emerge from Covid, our relationships will be largely impacted by how we have interacted and behaved during the pandemic period.
Just like a new virus lingers in society, so too do any relationship walls that have been erected alongside it. As time goes by, perhaps we can begin to dismantle those bricks – one conversation at a time.
In that spirit, Covid Conversations is both timely and timeless – ready for you to tackle any walls that might have built up in the last couple of years, at your own pace. Because we’re not at an end; this moment is just the one after the last, and we can work with it.
If you’re interested in opening up some conversations – or, if you’re trying to find a better way to show up to the tough ones – we invite you to check it out.
Sometimes a conversation is worth revisiting.