Where Does Talk Get Us Anyway?

Photo by Jeanne DasaroEver get tired of talking? Wish you could talk about what you really wanted to talk about? Get frustrated with people who just don’t listen?I know a lot of people who care deeply about a particular issue, but feel too burned out to do much of anything about it. Or if not burned out, then burnt—angry, sad, hurt, sick of having to think about that hard thing at all. So we go on caring, but we put that issue mostly aside. Out of sight, out of mind. We don’t talk about it.For me, it’s violence against women. I feel like it’s everywhere. I can’t figure out why men aren’t more disturbed by it, and I know we aren’t going to get anywhere if it remains a “women’s issue”. It seems like every week I read an article or come across a headline about rape or domestic abuse. Most days I don’t talk about it. Still, I know there are some things we can’t solve without everybody (enough people from enough segments of society) on board, each in their own way.If we aren’t burned out, many of us have issues we don’t know how to engage with. Or issues we refuse to engage with until the conversation feels more open, fair, or inviting. When I’ve spoken with men about the movement for women’s leadership, they’ve told me they believe in the need for it, sure, but don’t see themselves a part of it. Quinn Norton and Marianne Schnall have written about this or related themes. I know men who say they want to help, but are afraid to “say something wrong.” When I talk with women of color who are out there leading and working on behalf of women, I hear about all the ways the mainstream women’s leadership movement has left women of color, their histories and experiences, out. More than this, I learn about how white feminists so often fail to seek out the work women and men of color have been doing on this issue for decades.Creating truly diverse, whole, reflective-of-the-world-we-actually-live-in movements then doesn’t just mean “inviting in” new voices; it means going out and listening to different voices. At the same time, we must start with what we have, where we are, in our local communities and networks to drive change.In addition to finding ways to drum up broad support for any given issue, I’m getting a feeling so much of leadership and strategic movement building comes down to this: learning how to talk and listen to each other better. Conversational leadership as a field holds tremendous potential for helping us do this.So please join me the Centre for Social Innovation in NYC January 29th for the first of several World Café conversations on women, activism, and leadership this winter and spring and let’s move this women’s leadership conversation forward. We’ll be discussing questions like: Where we have we been in the women’s movement? Where are we going? What will men’s role be in today’s movement? (Men, we probably need you for this one). You’ll help drive this conversation.World Café is a conversational leadership tool that helps us listen better. Developed by Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, it’s a tool to spark conversations that matter and move conversations to action more effectively.Where does all this talk of women’s leadership get us? We don’t know yet because we still have a lot of work (talk and action) to do. Take the lead by joining the conversation and shaping today’s women’s movement. We don’t know what it’s going to be yet. It’s up to us.Learn more about this event, register ASAP if you plan on attending so we can get a feel for numbers, and spread the word!

Read more posts by Lex Schroeder.