Tag Archives: conversation

The Connection Project – Seek to Understand

Have you ever had one of those conversations where you know the other person is not listening to what you are actually saying? It makes me think of the “discussions” I had with my parents when I was trying to convince them my plan was a good one. The whole while they are talking I’m thinking about another angle to my argument, another way I can state my case. For all I know they were agreeing with me. I have no idea because I’m completely engrossed in my argument and how to best present it.

I’m much better at listening in a passionate conversation than when I was a teenager. But I still have plenty of room to grow. I’m more likely to catch myself now than I was then. My hope is someday I don’t have to catch myself. That listening to rebut is a thing of the past for me. It’s good to have goals right?

Being passionate about an event, a topic or an issue is a good thing! We need people who are passionate and willing to put themselves out there. It’s how almost all change happens. Passion is good. There has been an abundance of passion this past week alone. People are excited and scared, anxious and fearful, hopeful and relieved. It is all over the board with such intensity and emotion.

Listening is also good. Actually focusing on what someone is saying; their words their body language and their heart. (As an aside, remember, we aren’t all perfectly eloquent and certainly not all the time. Some times things come out all wrong. We phrase things in a way that can be interpreted differently. Considering the heart of the speaker helps avoid focusing on one phrase; getting stuck on semantics of a sentence.) Try really listening to understand what they are expressing. Hear what they are saying, not the clichés, not what you think they will say based on how you have categorized them, but what they are really sharing.

Stephen Covey’s 5th habit of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is seek first to understand, then to be understood. It makes sense. If you want to connect with someone, you need to understand where they’re coming from. What motivates them, what drives their passion, how did they come to the view they have? All important details in really connecting. You can assume all day or you can really try to understand. You may find you can actually relate to and empathize with how they landed where they did.

There are some great resources out there about active listening. You can find tools and tips to help you focus. In fact the Department of State website is a good place to start.

This week’s assignment: Focus on understanding the person who disagrees with you. Spend time in conversation, real conversation, with someone with whom you disagree. Listen to their words, their body language, their heart. Remember they may not be the most eloquent. Try really listening to understand what they are expressing.

From last week: There were certainly plenty of opportunities over the past week to look at how we categorize people. From political party to marches and even some football! How many times did you categorize someone else and make assumptions about them? Be honest. Did you catch yourself at all? It’s hard when you feel very passionate. We are all a work in progress. I’ve read a lot of comments on a lot of posts. Many of them are truly awful. Things people would never (or certainly should never) say to each other. On the other hand, there are a few of my friends who are very skilled at discussing issues without attacking individuals. I am learning from them.


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Filed under Advice, Goals, Intention, Lifestyle

What I Don’t Get About the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Like most Americans, a lot has been running through my mind since the Supreme Court ruling was released yesterday. Wherever you stand on the issue, yesterday was no doubt a historical day. That fact is not lost on Americans. As with so many other monumental days in our history, people are divided. What feels different to me in my short lifetime of experiences, is the level of dissention and the inability to be civil. The horrible language, name calling, and hatred that appears in the comment section of any blog post or news story (and sometimes it’s quite hard to tell the difference) is astounding. It seems when people get online they lose every ounce of composure. It’s really rather frightening to see how out of control people can get.

As I watched and listened to the coverage unfold I wondered what would happen if each person tried to say something in support of the opposing side. What if everyone against the PPACA could say one thing they like about it and those for it could say one thing they don’t like about it? What would happen? I think we would find some common ground. I don’t think half the country wants us to be socialists and the other half wants people who can’t afford health care to die. If you believe an eighth of the rhetoric out there, you would have to think this is true. It is never that simple. I think the reality is, there have been no civil conversations in the public arena about the pros and cons of the law. Only rhetoric and party lines tossed about with no willingness to discuss the meat.

I have questions about it. Things that concern me; things I don’t think will work. I have tried to seek out the answers and there don’t seem to be any. At least not any from sources I trust. Maybe that’s the key, no one has earned my trust by being willing to discuss the good and the bad. I thought today I would put my questions out here and see if there is anyone who can dialogue with me about them. Anyone who understands the ramifications of the law and how things will play out, who is willing to have an honest, respectful conversation. So here goes.

Personal responsibility

I believe there are two kinds of people who don’t have health insurance. Those who can’t qualify or afford it and those who, for whatever reason, choose not to have it. My question is around the second half. There are plenty of Americans who think they won’t get sick. “That won’t happen to me.” They are healthy and don’t choose to spend their money transferring that risk to an insurance company. Or they are lazy and simply don’t want to be bothered. I refer to that as personal responsibility and people have the choice whether to take it or not. Those who don’t are fine with letting someone else fix their mess. It is not unlike those who buy a house they cannot afford and then want to be bailed out rather than lose the house. Some people choose not to be responsible for themselves and allow others to carry that burden when it does “happen to” them. But how do we legislate them in to taking personal responsibility? Because if we can, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Will we pass legislation to mandate all forms of personal responsibility? And who will be the judge of what is responsible? Will there be a limit on the size of house I can buy? Will I be mandated to drive a certain car to avoid over extending my self? I get that this sounds foolish, but I believe you have to carry this kind of concept through to the extreme to see where it could go “in the wrong hands”, where could it lead, what precedent have we set? I feel like this becomes a slippery slope. I fully understand there is a cost associated with others not taking responsibility and one of the goals of the PPACA was to alleviate that burden on others. But can we really do that? And how else will we legislate responsiblity?

Insurance is a way to transfer risk

The entire premise of insurance is that I will give you money (premiums) in exchange for you agreeing to pay if/when I need medical care. It is a business. Thousands, probably millions of people are employed in some way by the insurance industry. It is not an evil entity; it is an industry full of Moms, Dads, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles working to support their family. It is businesses that are invested in by millions more Americans. My retirement portfolio is probably invested in insurance to one degree or another. That means if insurance companies don’t make a profit, my retirement savings doesn’t grow. I am counting on the money I invest in my retirement growing and compounding over the next 30 years until I retire. {It goes back to that personal responsibility thing – I don’t choose to rely on Social Security to take care of me in my retirement years, I’m planning ahead to take care of my self.} Thank goodness there are companies who are willing to take on the risk of my health so I don’t have to. Thank goodness for the insurance industry that employs millions. Sorry there isn’t a question there, I just needed to make that point.

Pre-existing conditions

Hallelujah that someone with a pre-existing condition can change jobs or choose to stay home to raise their children without the fear of losing insurance driving all their decisions. I think this gives people freedom. And I love that! There shouldn’t be a life sentence because you, or someone you love,  happened to draw the short straw in the health department. What I don’t understand is how people believe this will not raise the cost of health insurance for all. The idea behind insurance is the gamble of estimating what an insurer will have to pay out for any individual over the course of the policy. The premiums are based on those best guesses. If I know ahead of time that your illness will cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, over your lifetime, would I not have to charge more? What kind of business model would not cover that?

Level premiums for all

It’s a nice idea to think that no one should be charged more for their insurance. But this goes back to the idea that insurance is a business and as such must have a model that makes a profit. If not they won’t be a business for long. Why is it not ok to charge different premiums for different levels of risk? As a woman, there are some health issues I have the potential to face that men do not. That’s reality. So why would it be wrong to charge more for my coverage; the person with a higher risk. If that is the precedent, I’d like to have a reduction in my car insurance premiums since I pay more having teen boy drivers. I call not fair! When did the “right” thing become synonymous with “everyone is equal”? I think this is the part that makes people cry socialist. When the standard is set that the expectation is all are equal. Then all jobs should pay equal, then socialism. Do you see why people would be concerned by that? Can we acknowledge and talk about that?

Elimination of lifetime caps

This is another piece that is incredibly important for those with chronic disease. Often the annual or lifetime limits can leave them capped out in their 40s with no options. That is a scary place to be and offering the security of no caps is incredible! What I don’t trust is the sustainability of the plan. I think of it like Social Security that seemed like a great solution, until the numbers drawing out surpassed the numbers paying in. It isn’t a sustainable model. With people living longer is this sustainable? I would love to know that it is.

Spreading the burden

There has been much talk about the penalty (now redefined by the Supreme Court as a tax) that anyone without health insurance will have to pay. I understand that all Americans who don’t purchase insurance on their own will pay this fee of 1% -2.5% of their income. I believe the idea here is to help cover the costs which we currently all absorb in the form of higher health care costs when someone goes into the emergency room without insurance. So will the individuals without insurance, who have paid their penalty/tax be treated? How will this begin to cover the costs. {For example a young 20 something making $40,000 a year doing factory work doesn’t think he needs insurance. He chooses to pay the fine of 2.5% of his income. That’s $1000. He has an appendicitis attack, goes to the emergency room and ends up having surgery. I don’t know what that would cost, but I do know it would be more than the $1000 penalty/tax he paid.} Those who don’t want to pay this penalty/tax will get out of it just like the deadbeat parents who get by without paying child support, by hiding assets, working for cash, etc. How will this be different? How will this ultimately bring down the cost of healthcare? And will it disincentivise businesses to provide health care to their employees? If the penalty is less than the cost of insurance premiums will employers simply decide not to mess with offering insurance coverage to their employees?

There is good in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. There are things in this legislation that will be positive, especially for people with chronic illness. There is also a great deal of ambiguity in this legislation. There are lots of things that set a precedent for a direction that I’m not sure the American public has determined should be our future direction. There are so many questions unanswered. Could we just have a dialogue about the law? A civil, respectful, honest conversation?

This blog is my little corner of the world-wide web. The ideas and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone. I don’t purport to speak for anyone else or promote anyone’s agenda. The comments section is a place for me to dialogue with my readers and I hope we will have some good conversation. As my little corner of the web, I get to choose the rules – kind of like being the Mom. I choose to have this be a positive, respectful, thoughtful place. Comments that do not fit that criteria will be removed. {Please note, the first time you comment on my blog I have to approve your comment. Subsequent comments will appear immediately.} I would challenge you to do as I said at the beginning of this post and say something that reflects an understanding of the other side of the debate. Show that we can disagree, but we can also find points of agreement. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back again – my posts are rarely this heavy:)!


Filed under Health, The State of Affairs