Our Whole Soul

For all communicators who want to use their powers to bind a nation together, to carry it forward.

In his inaugural address, President Biden named a lot of massive problems the country has to tackle. COVID. Economic horrors. Social justice and racial equity—the explicit term, “white supremacy” appeared for the first time in an inaugural address. And the environment: oh, right.

On most of those issues, I don’t feel much more empowered than the next jamoke. 

But on one of the issues Biden talked about, I feel potentially very strong—mostly because of my association with communicators like you.

“Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another,” Biden said. “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war …

We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.

If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we are willing to stand in the other person’s shoes—as my mom would say—just for a moment, stand in their shoes.

How to do that, from the public to the very most intimate corners of our lives—and how to stop doing the opposite—is the subject of my book, An Effort to Understand. I’m proud of this book, and of course I hope it will be well and widely read.

But as my book publicist Kitty Kurth said the other day, “One book isn’t going to solve this problem.” (I like my book publicists to keep it real.)

That’s why we’re hosting a virtual conference in conjunction with the March book launch.

It’s designed to build a new band of communicators—professional, and amateur—to sing from a new song sheet, and hear the beat of a new drummer, keeping time for these times. 

I want us to begin think of communication not as a way of persuading others to our point of view—but a way of thinking all its own. And a way of behaving, toward one another.

Communicating to Understand is unlike any conference my organization has ever convened. It doesn’t promise practical tips and foolproof strategies to help you in your job. It’s just communication. To understand.

With many of the most brilliant, sensitive, funny communicators I know, we’ll talk about how to use rhetoric for good, not ill (and how to hear the difference). How to talk to young people now—and how to hear what they are really saying. The unique power of business to force more constructive conversations. What it’s like to be a conservative these days—well-meaning, but splattered in paint from broad brushes. How one of the most successful Black communication executives in the world has changed her whole way of thinking—about herself and her work.

And you and I will have a wide-open conversation, about what we all have to offer—and what we have to offer—as thoughtful, disciplined, imaginative, moral communicators in a nation and a world that needs us desperately (whether it knows us, or not).

The conference is priced to bring in all of us. 

Everyone who pre-ordered An Effort to Understand attends the conference gratis. 

Individuals who want to attend the conference pay only $95. (If your employer will pay, we ask that they help underwrite the event, by paying $395.) 

The first two hundred registrants receive a free copy of An Effort to Understand.

And if you need a scholarship to this event for any reason—you’re a student, you’re between jobs, you just spent your last dime on a new hot water heater—simply let us know and we’ll give you full access for free.

The more of us who participate in Communicating to Understand, the bigger the impact this gathering will have.

Yesterday President Biden said, “Through struggle, sacrifices and setbacks, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us—enough of us—have come together to carry all of us forward, and we can do that now.”

That’s us: communicators, professional and amateur. 

And yes, let’s do it now.

Please register today.

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