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  • Writer's pictureBarb Bickford

How Conversations Smooth Transitions

A few days after I moved to Madison, I was standing in the graveled parking lot behind the house I had just moved into. Our house mentor, Ed Beers, and I were discussing what to do about driving to our house’s fall retreat. One of the vans had just developed a mechanical problem, and although there was another car available, it would not hold all the gear.


I felt anxious, but Ed seemed not to be bothered at all. He looked at me kindly and said something I’ve never forgotten.


“Interruptions don’t get in the way of my life,” he remarked off-handedly.

“Interruptions ARE my life.”  


He turned and went back into the house to call a friend who drove us to the retreat center. Apparently the friend didn't mind his weekend being interupted, either.


Three women and a man smiling, with arms around each other
Barb, Ed Beers and two housemates

In this very brief conversation, Ed opened the door to an approach to life that I’m still practicing imperfectly.


The fact is, things happen, changes will occur and transitions are inevitable. It’s how I respond to them that makes all the difference.

Do I resist them and worry? Do I refuse to accept the fact that the unexpected has happened? Or do I welcome them as My Life and choose to ask for help?


Change can be challenging whether it stems from losses or our own choices, or, in organizations a change from outside (e.g., a new law, a pandemic) or inside (e.g., turnover on the board, a new product launch). And meetings are full of change!


Looking back, I notice a correlation between my engaging in meaningful conversations and moving more easily through challenging times. Yet, we often overlook how helpful such conversations really are.


Here are some ways that conversations can smooth transitions and become catalysts for personal or organizational growth:


Acknowledging and Accepting Loss: Losses, both big and small, mark significant points in our lives and organizations. Conversations allow us to acknowledge and accept these losses, out loud. Verbalizing our experiences and feelings helps us make sense of loss and lead us toward healing and personal or organizational growth.


Exploring New Opportunities: When embarking on something new, deep conversations can play a pivotal role. Exploring our fears and motivations and articulating our goals and aspirations can bring clarity and purpose as we move forward. Those with whom we talk might point out even more opportunities that align with our values and desires. Or we might even hear ourselves saying something we had not actually thought about before, just because someone asked a simple question.


Building Meaningful Friendships: When we share experiences, seek advice, or simply listen to others, we give and receive support during times of transition. Our listeners can offer new insights and solutions that we might not have considered on our own. We find strength and encouragement to navigate change with resilience and grace. We know we are not alone.


Expressing our emotions: Deeper conversations provide a space for us to express our emotions, share our vulnerabilities, and find comfort in the understanding of others. When faced with losses, whether it be the end of a relationship, a job, or a significant organizational change, expressing our feelings and experiences verbally can bring both healing relief and new insights.


Learning from Others' Experiences: We can gain wisdom by learning from the experiences of others who have faced similar transitions. They can provide valuable insights, guidance, reassurance, inspiration and the courage to embrace change.


In conclusion, the connection between deeper conversations and personal transitions can be profound. During both personal and organizational change, meaningful dialogue serves as a tool for healing, self-discovery, and building connections with others. Conversations smooth transitons by helping us navigate change with resilience, openness, and a sense of purpose. PS. Want to engage in deeper conversations about transitions? We're offering the Transitions and New Beginnings retreat again in April 2024. Learn more here.


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