Core features of Dialogue Process

"A basic notion for a dialogue would be for people to sit in a circle. Such a geometric arrangement doesn't favor anybody; it allows for direct communication. In principle, the dialogue should work without any leader and without any agenda. Of course we are used to leaders and agendas, so if we were to start a meeting without leader - start talking with no agenda, no purpose - I think we would find a great deal of anxiety in not knowing what to do. Thus, one of the things would be to work through that anxiety, to face it. In fact, we know by experience that if people do this for an hour or two they do get through it and start to talk more freely." David Bohm - On dialogue

-          Create a “container”It is a space where it is safe to reveal our deep truths and inquire with the curiosity of a learner into the truths of others. I think this is the room,  the athmosphere and the group created to make a dialogue session.

-          Adopt the stance of a  learnerThis attitude enables us to be genuinely curious and to put aside our cultural conditioning to be “knowers”. The Zen master Shunryu Suzuki had the following formulation : “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” We have to get over our prejudices and have the excitement of getting to know somebody new.

-          Radical respectI acknowledge the other person in her/his essential being as worthy of respect. Respect is more active than tolerance : to the degree I am able to see the world from the perspective of others. Every human being is special and there could be many things we might learn from each other.

-          Openness I bring an openness for new ideas and other perspectives. I am open to questioning long held habits, assumptions and beliefs.

-          Speak from the heart I speak which truly engages me, that which is truly important to me. I do not speak in order to shine brilliantly, to theorize or to make a speech. I am economical with words. This helps the group to be whole-hearted.

-          Listen deeply I listen  the other person without reservation with empathic openness that invites the other person to reveal in trust her/his unique world. This is all we need to solve the problems, in daily life we do not spend enough time and interest to listen others.

-          Slow down – In dialogue we have the oppurtunity to become aware of where our automatic, knee-jerk mental and emotional reactions come from. Without slowing down our communication process, such transforming awareness is scarcely possible.

-          Suspend assumptions and certainty The differences in our beliefs, assumptions and interpretations provide the fuel for endless misunderstandings and conflicts. In dialogue we practice becoming aware of our assumptions and judgments and holding them lightly in “suspension” so that we can observe and acknowledge them.

-          Practice a spirit of inquiry I put aside my role as “knower” and develop a genuine interest in that with which I am not familiar. I develop an attitude of curiosity, awareness and humility: “I don’t know and I am interested in learning.”

-          Embrace the paradox of differences I become increasingly able to  live in the creative tension that allows that both “this” and “that” can be true. I refrain from doing violence to a situation or a person by forcing it or her/him to conform to my picture of the world. Can you ever imagine a world without color shades?

-          Observe the observer I become a witnessing observer to my own listening and speaking, and in the process my fixed positions soften and transform. “Observed thought changes”-David Bohm

1 comment:

Herr Benesch said...

I am just writing a text about "mistake" and "feedback", and i thought that its fully "true": if you replace "mistake" by "feedback", you get, what you wrote at "observe the observer": if i dont make mistakes, but always get "just" feedback, i will be able to look to difficult situations in a much more relieved way... life is full of feedback-possibilities! :-)

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