Meditation in Practice

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.

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Coachee Call 2

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

Reflecting on Four-Player Conversation Model

Dialogue leaders work to keep harmony and productivity within a group discussion, thereby supporting the emergence of generative actions. David Kantor’s four-player conversation model 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. I recently took part in conversations to consciously explore these roles. Afterward, I theorized that movers and opposers are the actors best suited to set direction. The mover is like a skipper charting new waters, while the opposer drops anchors to explore the current waters. Bystanders and followers mostly provide crew support. I developed two theories related to Web-based, threaded dialogue. First, when a compelling perspective is voiced in online conversations, it causes a pause that opens a door for actors to change roles. Second, followers are less relevant online, where conversations include adequate time to respond and an archive to keep thoughts clear. Continue reading

Coachee Call 1

During my first dialogue with my coach, we explored some of the key processes of coaching: listening, mirroring, summarizing, questioning and catalyzing. Our conversation mostly focused on the first two, listening and mirroring. The former requires a coach to help people see their situation and themselves better. The latter involves inviting them into a period of reflection, diving deeper into the information they’ve shared.

When it comes to public statements, I shared that I’m more of a writer than a talker. As someone who’s successfully managed international public affairs programs, and recently completed a state-level public information officer course, I’m confident in suggesting that I’m more comfortable with carefully researching and writing talking points than speaking them. When making statements in public forums, I prefer a shoot-from-the-hip approach. But I shared a contradiction in my conclusion with my coach. On one hand, I prefer deliberate dialogue; on the other, I’m comfortable with rambling without constraints. My coach weakened my claim of a conflict by suggesting I’m simply most relaxed with developing ideas, relating and connecting. Continue reading

Participatory Media Requires Less Moderating, More Coaching

People are communicating today at a rapid rate, connecting through participatory media. Dialogue coaches are needed to accelerate an online community’s appreciation for its ability to collaborate, acting as a tool that encourages deeper understandings of the exhibited interpersonal skills. They teach ways to uproot attitudes stuck in past experiences and downloaded assumptions, such as simply talking tough or nice. They look at how people conduct a conversation and offer alternatives and feedback, so they may redirect conversations toward more generative and reflective dialogue.

Dialogue coaches strive for deeper understandings. The term “moderator” has been used to define the role of those who accept an authoritative role in online communities, weeding out unwanted behaviors. It’s dangerous to cover up or delete opinions, since the underlying issue is never addressed. Blocking adverse opinions excites their migration to other platforms. For that reason, online collaboration requires dialogue coaches, more than moderators, to keep information sharing activities meaningful, trustworthy. Through listening, coaches learn to appreciate the influence of personality traits online, and not fight them. Correa, Hinsley and De Zuniga found increased social media use in extraverted people, and people open to new experiences (2010). Emotional instability predicted more regular use by men. Since neuroticism is linked to loneliness, it’s likely that anxious and nervous people use social-networking websites to seek support and company. Continue reading

2013: New Era of Connectivity, Global Collaboration?

Back in the old days, we shopped in stores, where Black Friday events caused trampling injuries. Our wallets were stuffed with cards for using credit, receiving discounts and unlocking doors. On average, English words were a couple of letters longer. Schools issued books, not tablet computers, and foreign exchange programs required students to actually travel overseas. Tablets relied on batteries, which required a recharge after only a couple of days. Hyperconnected folks stayed mostly tethered to power outlets and WiFi networks. People preferred to record and share events on smartphones, more than take part. Palm-held touchscreen apps helped tech junkies with everything, from infant parenting tactics to finding cheap gas to social activism. There was a lot of political discourse occurring; Congress had an approval rating below that of the United States turning communist. Continue reading

Social Businesses, Community Merchants

Community MerchantThe broad acceptance of consumer technologies requires a foundation of intuitiveness. For example, if your computer’s mouse buttons sat under the palm of your hand, you’d most likely rely on your keyboard. Social media is a new tool that’s boosting our productivity by fulfilling innate needs. The technology is re-establishing the natural ebb and flow of human communications in commercial activities. Professional success is no longer sustainable by relying on quick transactions and short-term results. Backhanded tactics to close one sale can chop off countless of others. Instead, marketing specialists are mastering online platforms that build and sustain more intimate, long-term relationships. Big businesses are scaling back aggressive sales strategies and promoting hometown-like relations in virtual venues. Continue reading

Put Crisis Planning Into Social Media Policy

Sad Business ManCrises tests the integrity of a company’s communication plan. When mistakes seize consumer attention, outcries flood social media channels. External communications on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social platforms instantly transition from routine marketing activities to a significant public relations showdown. A company’s ability to remain proactive and reactive is shoved into a fast-paced, spin cycle. Disappointed communities will wash the brand in emotionally-charged remarks. The reputation that’s left in the aftermath, as comments settle and the brand dries in a breeze of fresh air, is formed by updated perceptions of the organization’s culture. Consumers will continue to recall how the company responded while it soaked in adversity. Continue reading

Social Media Support With a Smile

Computer SmileConsumers praise and promote brands they believe in. They also complain, condemn and criticize as soon as a transaction turns sour. Focusing on the latter issue keeps many companies on the fence about social media. Are the benefits of supporting global, Internet-based discussion systems great enough? Can they offset the risk of openly dealing with troubled customers? Taking the time to fully understand the proper integration of social media into marketing and customer service strategies makes the choice more obvious. After obtaining the appropriate tools and know-how, business owners soon figure out that ignoring social media is clearly the destructive decision. Learn how to support social media and reach out to your customers in their online social spaces. Don’t forget your smile. Continue reading

Millennial Market Coming of Age

MillennialsBack off Baby Boomers, move over Generation X – clear the aisles for Generation Y, also known as the Millennials. Based on consumer spending trends, they are set to gain a significant amount of purchasing power. In roughly five years, America’s first “always connected” cohort of consumers will start joining Generation X as the nation’s top spenders. The digital natives have always known life with broadband Internet, cell phones and other technical forms of communication – the tools are natural and integral parts of their lives. When they walked into grade school, the World Wide Web was just revving up. During middle school, Palm Pilots and iMacs began filling store shelves. While many attended high school, Napster was battling record companies. As they looked up colleges, it seemed like everyone was sharing music on MP3 players and transferring apps across smartphones. Millennials are a group of networked learners who know the potential of online communities, especially those formed around celebrities, brands, products and services. Continue reading