Six months ago, I was walking in downtown Colorado Springs wearing a blue-and-white pin labeled “Juror Div. 8.” I was part of a group of people selected by two teams of lawyers to interpret evidence in the 4th Judicial District of the Colorado State Judicial Branch.
After the lawyers completed their arguments in the first-degree murder trial, the jury was excused. I’d decide a man’s guilt with eleven other people, culminating two weeks of listening to witness testimonies, and getting acquainted. Finally, we could speak about the most meaningful thing this group of strangers had in common: a twisted love triangle and its deadly shooting. Continue reading
During a dialogue coaching call today, I examined the fields of listening within personal relationships. I guided my coachee through understanding the transition from judgmental listening to listening from outside, and then into empathic and generative listening. Each field carries a concurrent change in dialogue, where actors in a conversation move from the shallow exchanges of politeness or debate into those of inquiry and flow. My coachee explained two recent conversations with people in her private life. Continue reading
“Who is my self?” That was one of a couple of self transcending questions I needed to answer last Friday, ahead of a call today with my dialogue coach. I traveled to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, grabbed a stone and considered it.
“Who is this person, this being?” At first, nothing happened. Perhaps, the question has no answer, or it’s capable of infinite possibilities. I jotted down words on a piece of paper: thinker, experimenter, worker, stress-free, risk-taker, divergent. The words were soon followed by phrases: “living life,” “not wasting time,” “finding a personal purpose”, “experiencing many mini purposes for a greater overall purpose.” As I wrote, I started to metaphorically lift from my self, thinking more critically of who I am — not what I or other’s expect, but who I’m being. Continue reading
While facilitating a dialogue coaching call today, I found further evidence that everyone struggles with who they are. People are caught between conflicting personalities, resulting in the occasional discomfort or confusion. After my coachee reflected on the question “Who is my self?” while taking a brief walk in the afternoon air, she identified an internal conflict: her authentic self and ideal self. While authentically loyal, goal-orientated, determined and sometimes selfish, she strives to strike a balance with her ideal self to ensure a meaningful yet altruistic life. “Ideally, we’re all here to serve each other for some sort of synergy,” she said. Continue reading
Ferney, February 20, 1759
Once again, sir, this orange has been squeezed, and now we must save the peel. Perhaps, my peculiar birth was hundreds of years premature. Did I materialize too early, or just in time? For I’ve survived a generation, weak in the body, strong in the mind, paving your rue for truth. Nearly 300 years later, I trust you’re reasoning in novel ways, exposing and uprooting tyrants, sowing innovative utopias, benefitting from a sweeping brilliance.
Monsieur, do you demand skepticism of truth and reasoning? Do you cherish an inalienable right to make use of your pen as of your tongue?
“Respect my master’s absurdities!” says tradition’s slave. “Nay,” yells the enlightened. “Shut your mouth. For your master’s lies shouldn’t earn five minutes from a shelled mollusk.” Continue reading
Today, my dialogue coach and I discussed my ability to suspend judgments. Suspension is considered critical to preventing a conversation’s breakdown, as it transitions from argumentative to inquiry. We reviewed how to best carry conversations from debate and argument to more reflective dialogue. Without an authentic capacity to suspend judgments, people quickly succumb to overwhelming feelings of anxiety and frustration or politeness and denial. The result is talking tough or nice, or completely halting the dialogue process before it breaches the barriers leading to meaningful acts of mutual and collaborative understandings. Continue reading
During a call today, I was a dialogue coach for someone reflecting on suspending judgments during employee evaluations. She’s hoping to transition her evaluations into moments focused more on inquiry than debate. Suspension has proven difficult for one employee who routinely reacts defensive, re-enforcing prior conclusions. However, to improve understandings and cultivate a more collaborative work environment, she feels it’s important to persist at suspending judgment. Continue reading
Jürgen Habermas, a German philosopher and sociologist, has several matured positions related to dialogue processes, including his widely cited Theory of Communicative Action. Habermas is known for combining philosophy with social sciences to explain dialogue processes. His explanations of the actions required to form mutual understandings are pioneering and powerful. They’re considered highly influential in political discourse, public policy and critical thinking. After exploring his theories, I realized why a conversation I had nearly a decade ago stayed so memorable. Continue reading
During this week’s studies of dialogue processes, I focused on inquiry, meditation and presencing. After reading several explanations of mediation, where we learn to pack away thoughts and live in the present, I stared at a glass. I didn’t process it by what it might contain, or what it did contain, but for what it is: a beautifully carved piece of crystal, reflecting and refracting ambient light and shapes. I then considered how we’re innately drawn toward this way of thinking. We’re often caught by the fleeing moment of a beautiful sunset, a graceful melody, a playful child, yet we also place much energy into prejudice and hate based on experiences or predictions. By appreciating the unique creativity of the unknown, foregoing preconceived judgments, we become more aware of our present purpose. This week, I practiced an awareness of body, breathing, emotions and thought.
During my second call with my dialogue coach, we examined some of my conclusions after exercising David Kantor’s four-player conversation model. Kantor suggests actions a person may take during a conversation: movers initiate ideas and transition the conversation; opposers challenge ideas and the conversation; followers complete ideas and support the conversation; bystanders provide perspective on the ideas and conversation. We also considered the implications of creating a “container” for generative dialogue, and whether that container is considered negative or positive. Continue reading