Dialogue

The second core class, Dialogue, offered an opportunity to reflect deeper upon the barriers to full collaboration such as bias, conflict, and diverse perspectives. Dialogue is particularly relevant to the amplification of empathy.  I plan to use the skills learned in this course to facilitate dialogue about power, privilege, and diverse perspectives. My CAPstone project, an empathy workshop for social service providers, contains a module that presents how to use body language to convey a metamessage of empathy.

My Week 10 reflection follows:

Week 10 Reflection- Dialogue

  1. Articulate contemporary theories and practices of dialogue.

Artifact- Week 2 Dialogue:

I will admit that I am now very nervous about posting! Are any of my thoughts truly reflective? There is some fear about appearing (and being) foolish, as I am certain my thoughts are full of assumptions despite my best efforts to be mindful.

When reading what Bohm wrote about observation, I was thinking about an infant. I teach parents about child development, and what they can reasonably expect from their child during each developmental stage. Bohm asserts, “This is the picture which emerged gradually; thought tells you the way things are, and then ‘you’ choose how to act from that information.” (p 82) Infants are always observing, and choosing based on that gradually emerging picture. When developing language skills, before they understand words, they choose to mimic the tones, inflections, and expressions of those who speak to them. They put a toy phone up to their ear before they realize how a phone is used to communicate with others. These things happen long before they develop a sense of self, which experts suggest happens between ages 1-3. (More information can be found here, although seemingly only relevant to my personal experience: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/great-kids-great-parents/201211/self-awareness (Links to an external site.)) It seems that this process of assumptions and choices preclude the “self.” That is what I think, when I read Bohm’s words, “Thought is a system belonging to the whole culture and society, evolving over history, and it creates the image of an individual who is supposed to be the source of thought.” (P 82)

Now, as I complete my post a day later, I find myself laughing that Pearce discusses child development, since Bohm’s writing inspired me to consider that same approach to this topic. The further along in the chapter I read, the more I expected to read the phrases “double think,” and “cognitive dissonance.” Am I the only one?

Pearce stated, “Better social worlds can be made more likely if we reduce those factors that inhibit the emergence of high forms of consciousness and enhance those that facilitate their emergence. What are those factors?” (P192) I was very excited to read what would follow, what I assumed were the answers. I was rather disappointed that all that followed were more and more questions.

Can you think of any factors that Pearce did not mention that can either inhibit or enhance a higher form of consciousness?

Pearce’s theory of enhancing higher forms of consciousness, and Bohm’s theory of proprioception of thought are only some of the contemporary theories and practices of dialogue.

Since Week 2, I have also studied Isaacs’ tacit rules, and his expansion on the roles of listening, respecting, suspending and voicing in dialogue to the self and to the group as a whole.

  1. Model techniques of active listening.

Artifact- Week 3 Collaboration:

Ms. Cuddy used a wide variety of non-verbal communication in her presentation about non-verbal communication. She used her hands to emphasize words and phrases. Her eyes significantly widened when she would say the word “really.”  I watched to identify the paralanguage listed on the checklist: Vocal characters, vocal qualifiers, and vocal segregates. Ms. Cuddy utilized laughter, multiple volumes, a consistent tone and tempo (that seemed a bit rushed), and used “uh” and “um” several times in clusters. While reflecting on the listening communications, i struggled to make many connections beyond what Isaacs labeled “The Dark Side.” It seems that in a presentation like that, the audience is there for the purpose of “getting” what Ms. Cuddy was saying, but “listening in this sense objectifies the other person (Amy).” (Isaacs p 108)

 

Where are the critical moments in the dialogue both positive and negative?

 

Some of the negative moments I perceived were those that conveyed mixed messages, when her body language said something other than her words. For instance, she chuckled when she said the word “traumatic.” And she closed herself up, touching her face as if unsure when she asserted that power posing can “change the way your life unfolds,” as if maybe she didn’t believe that. Here is a screenshot of that posture as she said that.  Screenshot (302).png

 

Positive critical moments would be when the audience laughed when she expected them to laugh, I would also think that when they offered applause, that would be positive, too, sending a message of appreciation. However, in such a large group, I wonder how many people would have sat there sulkily if they disagreed with Cuddy’s message.

 

Along with comment: That reminds me very much of Ingrid and Rolf’s conversation in Pearce’s book. She asks him, “Is this where you think the story begins?” (Pearce Pg 163) Maybe another technique to promote good listening, is to listen again, after hearing more details. The first time I watched the video, it was for the content of Cuddy’s words. I had to watch it again to listen for the obligations of the assignment, and it sounded different while listening for those other things (the nonverbal cues that she used, not just the ones she talked about).

 

This demonstrates techniques of active listening not only to hear, but to understand. The metamessage can be found by listening to words, tone, body language, volume, and many other

factors. Later in the course, we discussed Stone’s Difficult Conversations which taught me more active listening skills, including how to listen for hidden feelings, and for when someone’s identity has been challenged. Analyzing 12 Angry Men for Assignment 3 helped me to apply those listening skills not only to my colleagues, but to propose alternate solutions to the conflict in the play.

  1. Demonstrate skills that foster productive dialogue.
  2. Reframe conflict for shared understanding, options, and mutual benefit.

Artifact for 3 and 4- Assignment 3 (attached separately) Dialogue Assignment 3

By analyzing “12 Angry Men,” and proposing solutions to the conflicts within, I have learned skills such as asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to the answers in order to “identify the roots of divergent views.” Reflection is another skill that fosters productive dialogue. I am able to take these skills and apply them to my current job. Collaboration with other social service agencies is a critical part of being a MIHOW, but often each agency views social problems through a different lens. By asking questions, one can begin to understand alternate perspectives. These can be reframed and reiterated as a combined story, highlighting the risks and benefits to all involved parties.

  1. Research and articulate contrasting perspectives among diverse constituencies.

Artifact- Assignment 2 (attached separately) Dialogue Assignment 2

The effects of immigration can be seen not only within the established population, but also within the population of immigrants. These contrasting perspectives have triggered conflict in countries around the world. Productive dialogue could help establish policies that are mutually beneficial to all parties.

  1. Define the perspectives that need to be explored and information that needs to be gathered for the needs analysis for the Capstone Action Project.

Artifact – Dialogue Lab Report (attached separately) Dialogue Lab Report

Dialogue is particularly relevant to the amplification of empathy. The perspectives of marginalized populations are valuable to those advocating for inclusion and acceptance of those who will not or cannot conform to mainstream society. Stigmas, assumptions, stereotypes, and generalizations are barriers to understanding those from diverse cultures, backgrounds, religions, races, genders, abilities, and socioeconomic status. A collective impact can be made when the right questions are asked, the right people are included in the dialogue, decision-making, and problem-solving.

 

Change: Reflecting on the course materials has given me the confidence needed to participate more fully in dialogue, at work, at home, or in general. These materials, as well as the discussions with my colleagues and professors, have fostered a personal growth containing new and enhanced skills for active listening, suspending assumptions, facilitating, recognizing and reframing conflict, and contributing productively to dialogue with appropriate questions and problem-solving techniques. My previous reflection posts have included small applications of this knowledge, but my future plans rely upon it. In order to catalyze an amplification of empathy within the social service field and beyond, productive dialogue is needed. Contrasting viewpoints are not barriers to problem-solving, but needed pieces to forming a collaborative cooperative whole. I plan to facilitate dialogue about empathy with the clients and providers of social services for the empowerment of both in order to help stigmatized people overcome barriers to accessing survival resources.