Ever notice how Bill O’Reilly speaks to his guests?

He is patronizing and sarcastic. There is yelling and interrupting.

There is rarely, if ever, a thoughtful discussion on his show.

A good conversation considers all perspectives.

In a meaningful conversation, there is room for doubt and for questions.

People think that if they are resolute and extreme they will be heard. They believe their steadfastness will effectively persuade others.

But I find the opposite to be true. I get bored when people are unwilling to rumble with a variety of thoughts and ideas.

“Extremism is so easy. You’ve got your position, and that’s it. It doesn’t take much thought.” – Clint Eastwood

Curiosity is so much more interesting. But so many of us see a lack of absolute conviction as weakness. It is actually an opportunity for growth.

The problem is so many of us need to be right — in our marriages, with our children and in political dialogues. When we are focused and committed to being right, it inspires others (who also need to be right) to prove us wrong. And so the battle of extreme remarks, in an effort to dominate, control and monopolize, begins.

One of my favorite comments on my blog is:

“Love how you approach controversial topics and somehow diffuse some of the heat… thank you!”

That remark means so much to me because my goal is to open up the conversation.

On any topic!

And “the heat” is distracting.

I look to represent all sides. It’s a deliberate decision to be inclusive.

So what are the best ways to have a meaningful conversation?

1. Listen – people can tell when you care only about your own ideas.

2. Ask Questions – it shows engagement and interest.

3.  Authentically Relate – people open up when they feel a genuine connection.