Creating Meaningful Dialogue

Empowerment from Source Point Training | February 15, 2017

Rodney King, after the Los Angeles Riots in 1992 said, “Can’t we all get along”. Human beings are born to be connected; and yet we are living in a world today that seems to spend a good deal of time expressing all the ways that we are different in culture, age, life experiences and economic means.

The last decade in America has challenged us all to accept changes in ways that many had never expected.  With change comes resistance, always.  Change means that we must be willing to let go of the way that is, was or always has been.

My niece, who is a school principle, shared this video with me recently about a school in England that is teaching Oracy.  As I watched it, I thought how great it would be if all adults could take the time to go back and re-learn the art of meaningful dialogue.

How many times in the last year have you found yourself becoming frustrated or even fearful at what you hear people say around you?  Maybe at work you sense a lack of alignment or even competition in the way that people share their ideas.   How do you have meaningful dialogue with your co-workers?

In social situations with friends that you have known for years, do you find yourself checking out or even having judgments about what they are sharing? Sometimes, when we know people really well, we stop listening to them and assume we know what they think about things.  Or perhaps in the last year with the political climate you realized that you have very different beliefs about where we are headed as a country.  Maybe you find yourself becoming upset when you attempt to share your point of view and you’re interrupted by someone sharing their perspective.

As a group of people working together or those you socialize with, it is not uncommon to have this type of reaction to others.  This is why so many of us “protect” ourselves from other people’s judgments.  That’s why we play the game – “just go along” thinking it is easier to get along then rock the boat.

Organizations talk about collaboration and innovation to foster creativity but do most people really understand what is required to create the trust and willingness to share openly their ideas and opinions?

To have effective dialogue with others, we must first be willing to listen to understand.  Stephen Covey in his world-famous book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” identified Seek First to Understand as one of the 7 habits for people to be most effective.  But what does that require?  We must be willing to suspend our judgments and opinions about what others are saying.  We must be open to listen to understand another’s point of view.   This requires us to let go of our worldview, which includes beliefs, values and assumptions many times.

Second, we must be willing to share our point of view even in the face of resistance. Be neutral, focus on finding ways to express what we believe in a way that others will be open to listen.  Look first at where we agree and connect and then bridge to another point of view we may have.  Know your “hot buttons.”  These are certain words or ideas that will trigger you into reaction.  We all have them.

Third, look for common ground where we have shared purpose and values.  Communicate clearly what you both agree on before discussing what you see differently or where you disagree.

Lastly, be respectful.  Our worldviews come from our past and how we were raised, our life’s experiences, core beliefs, values and circumstances.   We can’t change another person’s worldview just by giving them more information about what we think or the evidence we have. Worldviews are shaped over time.  Stephen Covey often spoke about shifting paradigms.  As our world changes and evolves over time, we can begin to see new possibilities if we respect different points of view and accept that our world is always changing.

Our best to you,

Barbara and everyone at Source Point Training

 

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