Listening Courageously

Conversation Guide

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“Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage you cannot practice any of the  other virtues consistently,” Dr. Maya Angelou said. When you think of being courageous, you might think  of facing a common fear like the fear of heights or public speaking. Facing fears like these involves  discomfort and uncertainty. We might wonder if the potential benefits will outweigh the potential risks.  But why might it take courage to listen? How might listening to different points of view make us feel  vulnerable or at risk? And what are the possible benefits?

Let's Get Started!

This Living Room Conversation flows through three rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.

Before You Begin...

Please go over the Conversation Agreements with your participants.

Introductions: Getting Started/
Why Are We Here?

What interested you or drew you to this conversation?

Round 1: Core Values

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?

Round 2:

Listening Courageously

Remember that the goal for this Living Room Conversation is for all of us to listen and learn about where we have different opinions and where we have shared interests, intentions and goals. Answer ​one or more of the following questions:
  • What does “courageous listening” mean for you? Describe any times you have listened, or been listened to in this way. What happened?
  • What fears, if any, do you have about how you will feel or what you will say or do when listening to people whose beliefs differ from your own?
  • How do you feel when there are silence and gaps in conversations? What are the potential benefits of giving a conversation breathing room?
  • What are the potential benefits you might receive from listening to others with differing beliefs?
  • What, if anything, are you willing to do to overcome fears about listening to those with different beliefs?

Round 3: Reflection & Next Steps

Answer ​one or more​ of the following questions:
  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

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