Bohmian Dialogue defined is a freely-flowing group conversation in which participants attempt to reach a common understanding, or in this case, a common goal, experiencing everyone’s point of view fully, equally and non-judgmentally. According to Bohm, this can lead to new and deeper understanding. For project purposes, the practice of dialogue with stakeholders leads to a more effective collaboration, thus a more solid and robust outcome in terms of the project at hand. Specifically, active listening, withholding assumptions, respect for others’ points of view (and social worlds), letting everyone have a voice makes for a more productive discussion/meeting and a more inclusive meeting that explores everyone’s perspective. I have found that ground rules, presented prior to each meeting helps set the expectation and keep people on track, and reminds them, should they forget in the heat of the discussion, to be respectful of everyone. In terms of relating it to the concept of the project, which is compassion, I strongly believe that dialogue techniques strengthen our compassion muscles, as empathy is required to enter into an effective dialogue session.
Articulate contemporary theories and practices of dialogue
Dialogue Week 1
The above artifact discusses dialogue according to Bohm yet doesn’t address Isaacs and Pearce. Since the first week of the course I have come to better understand and better articulate theories and practices according to all three authors. To review Isaacs, the goal of dialogue is to think together. He explains that listening, respecting, suspending and voicing are the components needed to enter into and sustain effective dialogue. To tie this to Bohm, this thinking together, creates shared meaning that holds people or societies together. Isaacs says that to listen is to slow down, and pay attention to others but also to look for differences that others present. Respecting is to acknowledge; “I see you, I hear you and I am open to your views. There’s an element of empathy required to be open to new ideas and new points of view. Suspending, which is vital, is to step back and suspend any judgments you may have in relation to the people in which you are dialoging. Bohm also discusses the importance leaving assumptions behind and writes that one cannot enter into effective dialogue with bias and assumptions. This hinders the ability for new ideas and concepts to flow freely. Suspending, according to Pearce, also involves learning how to ask good questions such as “What would that look like?” What is missing?” “What is the question beneath the question?” What leads me to view things as I do?” Asking oneself and others these questions present a sound strategy for suspending assumptions and sustaining dialogue.
Pearce presents a coordinated management of meaning which challenges our perceptions of what is real and what is reality. Pearce’s concept of social worlds is that everyone has different social worlds or realities based on upbringing, environment, culture and many other factors. This concept must be understood and put into practice to empathize with others in which we are communicating. This is also a way of suspending; by attempting to understand another’s social world in order to better understand where thoughts, ideas and perceptions are created. Pearce writes that we must consider the following during conversations to allow for dialogue to exist: “What meanings are we making?” “How can I better coordinate my meanings with the other person?” “What effect does this conversation have on my life and others going forward?” To examine the realities you have created and then match these realties to create something new is social construction. Pearce, Bohm and Isaacs write of similar components to effective dialogue and practices such as listening, suspending, respecting, understanding social worlds, and asking questions. These are all techniques required for effective dialogue.
I didn’t touch on Isaacs voicing and wanted to address that voicing is also a manner of suspending from a prior way of thinking. Our speaking should not come from reaction but should emerge unplanned for the sake of dialogue. Our voices should unfold and enfold. To let a voice emerge, wait until someone has finished speaking and then wait a few moments for that meaning to bloom within your thoughts. Then speak. If we can learn from these authors and learn to listen, suspend, respect and voice, then we have a fighting chance at dialogue and new meaning.
Change: The concept of dialogue is new to me. I thought dialogue was two people talking and perhaps learning to manage difficult conversations. Dialogue has nothing to do with that except that it is a type of communication that can create new understandings among different people, regardless of culture and social worlds. Dialogue techniques and practices have caused me to become a more active listener. When communicating with others, I don’t speak as readily as I used to. Instead, I listen and look for differences in thoughts and ideas. I also relate ideas to my reality or social world and try to find similarities as well. I try to remember to ask those questions necessary to help me suspend judgment and uphold respect for new perspectives. Overall, learning what dialogue is and what it can do, I feel, is vital and necessary for creating a new world view.
Model techniques of active listening
Taxonomy of Dialogue
Both Isaacs and Bohm have writings on listening. In modeling more active listening, I have done the following: I close my eyes and try to hear deeply when listening to someone. Hearing can be deeper than the other senses and there are little illusions in hearing. So learning to actively listen (and give yourself time to process; don’t react) can make all the difference in understanding and communicating effectively. I focus on what is being said and the tone and the tempo and the context. By focusing, I gain much better understanding where usually my thoughts are wandering while someone is speaking to me. In my taxonomy graphic above which I chose as my artifact for this section, I chose to put listening closer to the outer edge because it is an essential step that must be mastered in order to move on to the rest of effective dialogue. Dialogue allows us to hear a fuller context. But we have to actively listen first. I’ve learned I must be present when listening and I must not respond immediately. I must give myself time to think about the thought that was just expressed. A richer, more robust communication is the result and later, I can better remember certain points and can apply them to new ideas and new concepts which I find myself discussing.
There’s been a big change in my listening skills. I’ve talked to classmates about listening being the key catalyst in moving us into dialogue. It is somewhat like a bridge one must cross first and it lets us see deeper dialogue and lets us start to enter into a new phase of meaning. Listening can move you forward or hold you back. Being aware of the importance of listening is the first step I’ve realized and putting it into practice and continually practicing follows. But until listening is mastered, dialogue cannot emerge.
Demonstrate skills that foster productive dialogue
Core Practices of Dialogue, Dialogue Week 6
I refer often to the Core Practices of Dialogue and I built my taxonomy with a similar focus. All parties involved understand and be open to dialogue to demonstrate it. They must advocate and inquire and listen thoughtfully to enter into the realm of effective dialogue. I can demonstrate I’ve engaged the core practices best through our Dialogue Activity from Week 6. Here is the prompt:
Describe a difficult critical incident challenge you have experienced in a professional setting. (Please omit identifying characteristics from the scenario to protect the privacy of the parties.) Articulate the series of events in terms of chronology and causality. When did the dialogue cease being productive? What did you notice? What are the critical moments that shaped the dialogue? What advice would you give to the participants in the scenario to reach positive resolution? Respond to at least two of your colleagues and provide recommendations to improve their communication.
My response and my responses to my classmates demonstrates my ability to foster effective dialogue in practice. In my initial post, not reacting, not escalating, staying present and respecting were difficult but were exercised. This example also shows crisis intervention techniques due to the nature of the incident. I had to intervene in this employee’s negative discussions several times and eventually had to intervene in her own monologue and ask her to leave the office. We tried repeatedly to dialogue with her and come to some kind of understanding but she wasn’t open to engaging.
Being able to demonstrate through verbal communication that I can foster effective dialogue practices is a major change. Being able to put Isaacs, Bohm’s and Pearce’s ideas into practice is something very new to me and the change is that it brings me to a new understanding of communication and how to communicate more effectively with others, especially in the difficult times. Stone’s three conversations must also be noted here as the incident was not about what happened necessarily, but about the employee’s social world, the employee’s feelings and her identity. She had issues with her father and she was projecting those negative feelings upon leadership. There is a parallel with 12 Angry Men and Juror 3 and his issues with his son. All of these were aspects the employee needed to address before being able to move forward with any type of conversation. The fact that I was able to attempt dialogue and not engage in those behaviors that hinder effective dialogue show that this course has changed my thoughts and behaviors in terms of communication.
Reframe conflict for shared understanding, options, and mutual benefit
Collaboration Week 6
In the artifact for the collaboration activity on week 6, I used mainly crisis intervention. Although it was a good start, I have since then created a better strategy for every day difficulties that are not of an emergency nature. Here is as the strategy I use for reframing conflict:
- Clarify what we are here for
- Emphasize learning and inquiry rather than resolution
- Start from an appreciative base rather than a deficit model
- Awareness is a better basis for resolving conflict than rules, rights and power
I’ve come to better grasp what to do in those times of difficult communication, at work and at home. Of course, if the other parties aren’t willing to or aren’t open to finding resolution than it may not be effective. The point is to start a dialogue and communicate by presenting other perspectives and ideas until a resolution is created. We aren’t really finding resolution, it doesn’t already exist, we have to create it.
Research and articulate contrasting perspectives among diverse constituencies
12 Angry Men Film and Assignment
In our 12 Angry Men project, we analyzed the film, identified difficult conversations among the diverse group of men, evaluated contrasting juror perspectives and suggested dialogue techniques and practices that may have helped the men communicate more effectively.
After this activity I have to say I saw a different side of dialogue. Seeing practical dialogue among difficult conversations and heightened emotion was enlightening. The theory is one thing and the taxonomy was so helpful in brining all the facets of all the authors together into one, complex yet cohesive picture. However, seeing it in practice is necessary to grasp the core and to see the broadness of dialogue come full circle. I don’t know if I would have had the full experience without seeing dialogue in action amidst diverse and emotional people.
Define the perspectives that need to be explored and information that needs to be gathered for the needs analysis for the Capstone Action Project.
Capstone Project Stakeholder Assignment
The stakeholders in which I am partnering for my project have several different perspectives. We all agree that compassion is key, yet different personalities and different social worlds exist and meetings have not yet become productive. For example, we need to define roles and discuss action items with achievable deadlines in order to roll out our compassion campaign on-time and effectively. This may prove to be difficult if assumptions exist and if seniority in terms of experience plays a part in deciding who takes what role. And I think we need to not only define roles for the overall effort but also for meetings. Also personalities that are more analytical and take more time to evaluate situations are clashing with the “doers” and frustration is becoming obvious. However, perspectives need to voiced and heard, yet a structure in which to do this is what we lack.
The change I notice in working with these stakeholders is that I am a better listener and am more open to different perspectives and ideas. I am slow to speak and give my self time to process thoughts in light of my new experience with dialogue practice.