Deemster revisited LO27112

From: Rol Fessenden (
Date: 08/06/01

Julie Beedon was quoted by Don Dwiggins as below, and Don went on to give
a reference to the "Deemster Problem" which AT brought up back in '98. I
have reread some of those notes, but not all. The very foreshortened
essence of AT's suggestion -- gently put -- was that we practice dialog
and not debate.

It is perhaps theoretically possible that in a constrained situation a
true 100% dialog could occur, but it is rare. Hoping to have one in a
fairly rich situation with many participants is likely to be a doomed
hope. This list actually does a pretty good job of it. But once we get
into the world at large, where we have constant difficult conversations
with spouses, bosses, friends, kids, coworkers and so forth, it is
impossible to have a dialog conversation with any regularity. It is hard
to pracice dialog when one is on either end of a conversation involving
firing, confronting someone over their prejudice or abuse, judging
someone's ability to do a particular job, making your conversation with
your father more intimate, telling your father he drives you crazy, trying
to take away a client's anger over an unexpected charge, informing a
friend he was not chosen to be on your work team because his prior
performance made him less attractive than others, and so on. Tact is
fine, but it is not the answer. There are a lot of feelings involved, and
it is unrealistic to expect someone to enter into a dialog when their
feelings are deeply involved.

So in the imperfect world, what do we do? AT offered part of the solution
when he said that he had been part of the Deemster culture, until he
realized what he was doing, and then he changed himself. No one else
changed AT, he did it himself.

What AT does -- and undoubtedly others here -- is engage in dialog-like
behaviors and communications mechanisms even when the others in the
conversation do not do so. This is an example to me of someone taking
responsibility for his own behavior and not letting his behavior be
constrained by others' actions. What AT does is considerably harder than
just wishing that everyone else would engage in dialog. He does it solo.

With sigtnificant trepidation I offer how AT makes the transition to
dialog for himself almost regardless of the behavior of the other person.
First he engages himself in a learning analysis. What is going on here?
What is the message? What is the factual content versus the emotional
content? Witholding judgement on the other person's intent.

Then he attempts to engage the other person in a learning conversation.
Trying to learn the purpose, listening carefully and intently, exploring
possible ambiguities, speaking for himself with clarity, and creating a
problem-solving environment.

I suggest that is the recipe. For each of us.



"Rol Fessenden" <>

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