POV: Dialogue f***ed up your brain


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Přidáno: 15.04.2023

Dialogue: the art of thinking together   William Isaacs

It is a process.

Dialogue is a way to connect us.

A conversation with center, not sides.

The power of dialogue emerges in the cultivation, in ourselves, as well as in others, of questions for which we do not have answers.

 

First, I would like to address a few miss consumptions about dialogue.

The perception of dialogue is a paradox. People believe it is something they already know. They create a romanticized image of its simplicity, but there is still so much more to learn about.

“Those who try to minimize the complexity of dialogue by reducing it to a few simple techniques about talking together will be sorely disappointed. “

What is needed instead is a way of recalling what people already know about dialogue, while recognizing the ways in which we undermine ourselves to live up to the potential of our conversations. 

“That's why you need to understand the theory and principles of dialogue—the interlocking forces that determine “how and why” dialogue works. Without an underlying theory about why things work—in this case, why and where dialogue is effective—we can go only a short distance toward proficiency.”



I noticed the behavior of simplifying dialogue in our community a lot. We learned couple basic principles at the beginning and thought that is enough to create a space for dialogue. But we often don’t realize that dialogue starts with questioning our behavior. That is why I spend so much time on this essay and tried to go deeper into to the theory and explain how I understood the philosophy behind it.


Three levels of action

There are three action that create a foundation for thinking together:

 

1.   Produce coherent actions.

-     We must recognize the difference between what we say and what we do and create a space for new behavior.

-     I think it is strongly connected to overcoming difficulties and adapting new behavior through the principles mentioned bellow.

 

2.   Create fluid strictions in interactions.

-     We often misread what are people trying to say which leads to miscommunication. For mutual understating we must become aware of the underlying forces of conversation and develop a predictive intuition.

 

3.   Provide wholesome space for dialogue.

-     The space and atmosphere greatly influence the occurrence of a dialogue. By becoming more aware of the architecture of the invisible, we can affect the world around us.

 

Why we think alone?

 

Thinking is a tacit knowledge and it's broken.

That's why we cannot solve problems in society and that's why we cannot talk together - it's because we were thought to think alone.

Imagine that our brain is a soil from which everything grows. But the soil is polluted and that holds us back. We can change it by acknowledging how we think and then trying to change it. 

 

Principles of dialogue

The four pathologies of thought—abstraction, idolatry, certainty, and violence—underlie most of the difficulties we face—in ourselves, in our families, our organizations, our society. Together they reinforce our experience of fragmentation. At the same time, the four principles for dialogue— participation, unfolding, awareness, and coherence—make up the outlines of a way of being human that might help us to overcome difference between what we say and what we do and provide a basis for new behavior.

 

Abstraction, fragmentation and participation

Fragmentation means dividing things that have the same roots into separate parts. That's what we did with the true and the good and the beautiful – the three basic disciplines found in the Greek times. Today only the names of those disciplines have changed. We call them science, ethics and art. They all have the same foundation, but we only believe in science. Because of this fragmentation we think the way we think so that's which causes the pollution of the soil.

 

Abstract means to “extract” - pulling out a segment out of a whole and giving it a name. Pulling out a meaning.

We abstract or extract things. It is presented on the example of dividing land into countries. We believe that we are divided, but when you gain a perspective, it could be for example by going into space, you realize all the boarders are just an abstraction which causes us to believe that we live in a fragmented world. “When we label the world, we lose track of the difference between our labels and our experience. “

 

To heal the abstraction and the fragmentation we use the principle of participation which is basically saying:

 

I am the world, and the world is in me.

 

It means to look at things and smother the need to give it a name or to label it. To pay attention to the details. To realize, that when we read some words, they become part of us or that the people we feel close to, but may not be here atm, are always part of us. 

t is also connected to a holographic paradigm – which explains we ca be aware of stuff that we don’t see. For example, you can imagine a whole room even though you don't see it. When you consider it and become conscious of it that you're able to open and create new possibilities.

 

Idolatry, memory, and unfolding.

This refers to the fact that we confuse true thinking with saying things that were stored in our memory – idolatries. For instance, a rainbow is a good example of idolatry. It is basically not there, it's just a combination of sunlight and water drops and influenced by the Another problem is, that we live off our memories without realizing it.

Sometimes we drive to work, and we do not realize how we got there, because we used our thought to guide us. A thought is just a past of thinking - not real thinking. It works the same with felts which is the past of feelings. 

To get out of this we apply the principle of unfolding:

 

There is a constant implicate potential unfolding through and around us.

I understand it as listening to us and trying to be in the presence. Just to stop and calm down. To investigate truth of how we feel and what we know. 

We can tell that we are applying unfolding by sensing a growing confidence in ourselves, that the life is moving forward no matter what we do.

To what extent are you thinking and to what extent are you basing your views on what others have told you, what you have stored in memory, what you believe but do not really know for sure? 

What percentage of your views are assumptions, or already received wisdom?”

I base my opinions a lot on my memory or other people’s opinions. I am trying to reveal my mental models to create a sense of my own identity. It is one of the hardest disciplines for me, because it requires a deep look inside myself. I practice meditation to get better.

 

Certainty, flow, and awareness

We limit ourselves by holding on to our view and opinions because we might be scared it is everything we have. Who will I be if I do not have an opinion on everything. We seek certainty in everything because it is comfortable, but the world around us is constantly changing. We should expand our view and become aware that “The only thing that turns out to be certain is change itself. Live is a process. Everything is moving.” That is the principle of awareness - to allow our attention to broaden and expand.

 

I am aware of many different voices within myself.

 

“How firmly do you hold on to your views? 

Do you have room for other points of view? “

I used to be a very opinionated person, but since studying Tiimiakatemia I realized how important it is to come int a conversation with an open mind, because otherwise I only limit my own learning. I learned people perceive world through different glasses and try to take into an account. It also makes me questions how my glasses are designed and how they alter the reality.

 

Violence, inclusion, and coherence

 

When we try to impose our thoughts that defends onto the world, we are violent. When we defend towards another one’s idea we basically say, we have no connection to it, or anything that is behind it. That often causes “přestřelka” between people, where respect is lacking.  With the principle of coherence in mind we learn that things fit together in ways we could not have understood or imagined. We may not always like what we discover, but we learn to see how it all fits. So whenever someone act in a way that is strange to us, we can look for the forces behind it and might come to an understanding, it is not so distant from us at all. That overall, they are part of our world too and the way they perceive it might potentially make sense to us too.

 

Everything is already a whole, I must look for the ways that it is.

“Where does this come from? How does it work?” 

I don’t ask these questions enough, but I realize, that behind every action is an intention and when you put it together it makes more sense. I find it hard to understand to some people, but the approach of bailing on them in these situations is easier, that is why I sometimes do it. 

New capacities for behavior

 

Listening

 

While reading this chapter I realized listening starts with myself. It does not only mean to become concentrated on the conversation. We need to quiet our mind a listen in silence. We need to be present and to achieve that, we got to understand our mind first and acknowledge our reactions and our behaviors.

 

I realized I do not question my thinking enough, many times in a conversation I jump into conclusion that is based in my emotional memory. Listening start with myself, there are questions and practices that can guide me to explore my thinking. 

 

Respecting

To respect a means to consider someone else as a teacher. To see the opportunity to learn from them. To acknowledge the underlying forces of the conversation - not just listen “through a tunnel.” It doesn't mean to educate others or to put yourself in a position that more, even if you are a facilitator. You shouldn’t consider your opinions as final. 

It is connected to the principle of coherence which means seeing everything as a whole and believing other ‘s opinions are part of ours. 

 

Suspending

 

To stand above the pool of your own perceived possibilities is the art of suspension.

Art of looking at thoughts.

 

 It is about loosening a grip, taking a step back, looking from a different angle, analyzing the situation, analyzing the problem, trying to feel the atmosphere and gaining perspective. Suspending is hard. Especially when you feel attacked. To suspend in those moments means to observe what u are feeling and what has happened – not to suppress it or put off onto someone else. Try to explore it.When we bring attention to thoughts, we also bring a new perspective and can easily transform them.

 

I liked the part about – accessing your ignorance – it means to recognize and embrace things you do not already know. I realized it is okay not to have an opinion. People that know what they think and are not open cannot lead dialogue. It is okay not to know an answer straight after

 

Again – it starts with me. I used to think to suspend is to have a mind like water, but it actually requires a very active state of mind. We got to push away all the mental models and formed opinions and instead ask ourselves some genuine questions about what is happening right now. It requires of us to stay aware and open to whatever might arise in the conversation. It doesn’t mean to separate from a conversation but to dive deeper in it.

I came to understand the importance of a good question. A good question leaves you speechless. It makes you think. It is okay to let questions unanswered.

 

Voicing

So voicing has actually a completely different meaning than what I've thought it has. I thought it means to say whatever we think and to express ourselves, but I've realized it is not about that at all.

We must believe in what we say and that starts with self-trust. To do that, we need to understand ourselves better and find our true voice. We need to distinguish what is “our” opinion and what have we taken from other people and are just expressing it. 

We can ask some questions, “What do we want to be remembered for?” or “What is our music?”

Furthermore, we do not have to say everything that comes to our into our minds. We have to learn to trust the emptiness and to be okay with not reacting. The quietness this can give us time to find the right words. 

It’s a paradox that in a chapter called voicing you are encouraged to find peace with a quietness, but that is exactly what I needed to hear.

 

Implicate and explicit order

The chapter voicing presets that there's implicate an explicit order and that is connected to the principle of unfolding.

Implicate order is a deeper level from which everything unfolds to the explicit order that is above it.

To better understand, consider this: a creation of a thought happens in the implicate order and when we say it, it transforms to the explicit order.

But is there something under the thought as well? Sometimes in a conversation more people develop the same thought and start talking about it. How else would you explain it than with a fact, that there is something underneath, from which the thoughts unfolded.

Practice: speaking from and to the center

It can be done in a group that forms the dialogue to help with concentrating on the center and not on the sides (relationships). You just put something in the middle – for example a buddha mug 

 

Lastly it is important to realize that no one else is going to speak our voice for us except of ourselves.

 

The dark side of voicing

Sometimes, when people feel unheard, they call for someone to listen or they take all the space which later on forces the others too feel the same way as they did.

 

Patterns of actions

It explains some basic structures that can be found in dialogue.

Predictive intuition

Developing PI starts with acknowledging the structures. Then we can learn to understand them, which enables us to get behind them and find the intentions of the people and the underlying forces of the dialogue.

what we normally see in the in the dialogue is just how people act 

and that is all we take away, but there is more. 

 

Roles

One of the structures are the different roles in dialogue. 

There are basic characteristics of them and their intentions. They switch very often. One person can be simultaneously in two roles, e.g. they can be a mover and a proposer at the same time. It is important to have all the roles in the dialogue. They do not have to show at the same time. A person should be able to they'll take over all the roles not just one. 

Fun fact! They can be perceived as something else - for example someone acts critical, but his intention might not be wrong, maybe he just wants clarity, or he wants correction.

So, understanding what these roles mean can help us find deeper meaning of what the people are trying to say and the underlying forces of the dialogue.

 

Overcoming structural traps

“There is a variety of different levels on which people interact, all simultaneously affecting them, all combining and shifting moment by moment. Two of these levels are particularly important for dialogue. “

Languages (level 1)

“People speak three different languages when they express themselves: the languages of affect (or feeling), meaning, and power. Obviously, it causes confusion and miscommunication between them, as it is with any other language.

 

The language of meaning gives you a sense of the ideas behind. Asking why. The second is the language of feelings. This is the sense of beauty, of rhythm, and of timing that we have in our conversations. How we feel deeply impacts what we think. The third is the language of power—particularly the power of our actions.

 

In good dialogue we must evoke all of them – what we unconsciously do  During our check in we talk about how we feel and why – which evokes language of feeling and meaning.

 

Paradigm (level 2)

Distinct from this first layer are three different lenses that guide people to different preferred ways of organizing power and relationships within any system: open, closed, and random “system paradigms.” These preferences guide our thinking and feeling whether we are aware of them or not. Becoming aware of another person's and our own preference can give us an enormous advantage in understanding and communicating well. 

 

A perfect version of an open paradigm is a learning organization described by Peter Senge. Which makes it most relatable to our paradigm at Tiimiakatemia. A closed paradigm would be found in most corporates. Space, time, and energy are all regulated there. A random paradigm which can be beautifully compared to a jazz music.

 

It is important to state that there are flaws of each one and I can see a lot of them happening at our TA. E.g., when everyone has a say in making decisions, the creativity can be killed because a lot of good ideas get swept under the carpet. Luckily, we have just implemented our decision-making process. 

 

The goal of dialogue is to make an atmosphere in which all languages and paradigms can coexist and respect each other. It is important to be able to map them by using our predictive intuition.

 

Setting the container

The atmosphere in which dialogue occurs is called a field but we cannot control of the field. Field’s energy safety and possibility are three important elements. We can establish a container that defines clear boundaries and can aid us in developing a particular environment. Being in a circle is one way that we might form a container, and it is crucial that everyone can see and hear one another. There should be ample light, good acoustics, and higher windows to prevent distractions and promote a sense of security. We should decide whether we prefer an open, closed, or random paradigm, and then act accordingly.

The primary lesson I've learned from it is that dialogue is something you cannot control. There won't ever be a set of guidelines to follow to hold a dialogue; it will just evolve. 

 

The fields of conversation

In this chapter we discover four different fields of dialogue which we must go through. I would rather call them stages. 

During this chapter I realized that dialogue needs a lot of time and that all the confusion is also a part of it. It start with the first time you sit down and dedicate yourself to it.

I also started doubting if having a facilitator in dialogue is a good thing. It differs a lot from facilitating a normal meeting or training session. 

We need to let the chaos swirl there for a little bit because that leads us to a point, where we start reflecting and move to a next field.

 When we have the facilitator, we do not let ourselves go into the confusion, we try to jump out of the discomfort and make a conclusion. 

 

First field

This field occurs at the beginning of dialogue. It relates to the instability, politeness and is guided by fear. Some people move, others follow, but they're almost no bystanders or opposers. At the end of this field comes the crisis of emptiness the realization that we cannot make dialogue happen and that that we are all somehow responsible for making it happen and that we cannot rely on some expert to tell us what to do. Using facilitators here as is in some way avoidance of the emptiness.

 

Second field

Instability of the field and breakdown in the container occurs. The ruling emotion is fear. Movers and opposers are very active. People seem to struggle to find a common outcome, they struggle to suspend. Due this not many groups can get through this field and move on to the next one because it requires a suspension - realizing I am not my opinion. They need to develop a willingness to listen to others. That is the only way to navigate through the crisis - to realize I'm not my opinion.

 

Third field

the flowering of reflective dialogue 

Here we finally get out of the freaking mess and start to see the point of the whole dialogue – that there is a larger meaning. People are reflective and curious. In the first field the container is held, in the second one the pressure builds up onto its boundaries and in this field the container opens. They lose the temptation to have an answer to what they have said. People with different points of views come to set of understanding There comes a crisis of fragmentation. At the previous one we realized “I am not my point of view” and now it's on a bigger scale, we realize “we are not our point of view” and see everything more systematic and connected to the rest of the world. The only way through is letting go of the isolated identity.

 

Fourth field

It’s the rarest of them all. You experience the flow when you cannot really describe what is happening. When you think something and someone else says it instead of you.

We've experienced it a couple of times with my team but to be honest not many times. I can’t really remember the specific time when we went through another field, this one is unforgettable.

the crisis of reentry

Coming back to the reality from the whatever higher conversation you got yourself into can cause a crisis. People can get addicted to this feeling and want experience it again. But dialogue is an emotion, and we need to understand it changes and trying to reinforce the previous experience can become really toxic.

 I'm ******* surprised how genius this author is because this is literally what I went through.

 

Kronos and Kairos

literally the best ******* chapter 

It distinguishes two different types of perceiving time. Kronos is the one that control us. Kairos is knowing when the appropriate time is - just being in the moment.

As we move through different fields, in the first two ones Kronos dominates and as we move through the 3rd and 4th Kairos dominates. 

It this is such a good field tracker. When you concentrate yourself on how people perceive the time you can very well distinguish in which field you are right now because as you move through third and fourth people lose the perception of time and do not care about how long it takes, because they are in the moment.

 

Convening a dialogue

 In this chapter we discover a guide for leading throughout the fields - what can we do, when we happen to be in one field and want to get through into next one. It’s a dialogue leadership.

 

I understand this kind of leadership as just looking for the potential of the conversation not trying to shape it but kind of just guiding it and giving it little pushes but not restraining it. 

 

First field

 In the first one it is important to set the container. I have realized there is a list of things I can concentrate myself on that can help me not to get stressed. It makes me feel, there is something I can do but I must remember that this kind of leadership is participative.

 

Second field

Now the conflicts rise, and we have to create a setting when it is okay to hold them.

 

Field three

The third field is all about reflecting. We should embody the person we aspire to see - we can reflect out loud and look for the underlying forces.

 

Fourth field

The fourth one is hard for leadership because its role switches between people. (I think it can switch in the previous ones too)

This role is more natural. I feel people do not even acknowledge that they lead. It is characterized by leading towards the end. What are the possibilities that are emerging? What actions can we take? What is the highest point that we can get with this conversation to? 

 

Dialogue and the new economy

In this chapter we discover different situations in which using dialogue supports coming to a mutual understanding by making a practical contribution. 

 

Today the companies are viewed as machines. People try to control all the meetings have clear agendas and do not let the natural flow to happen which lefts no room for dialogue. They need to start approaching them as living organizations.

 

I see that in our company. We do exactly what is stated above even though we know we should use dialogue, but we have lost the common sense of how to do it. We really must change it. Although I think we've already gone through the discomfort of not knowing what to do – at the beginning. That was when we created agendas and needed facilitator but to move forward, we must stand out of this comfort zone again.

 

Afterthought:

 

I been looking forward to finishing this book, it but now that I've done it I feel like after watching a good show and not having another season. I learned so much, but I feel like I know even less. 

This book greatly touched me and made me reconsider the way I perceive the world, the way I express myself, my mental models and my relationships.

 

I was reading this book because I wanted to know how to do dialogue. Now I know that is not possible. I've learned a lot more about how it is created and now I have less tendency to control it while it's happening. Because now I understand the underlying forces better and even when it's uncomfortable I remain calm because I know we are on the right path. 



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