(Inspired by Democratic Dialogue Handbook – see further below for extract)
Dialogue contributes to enhancing the level of individual and collective consciousness in groups, by expanding the level of understanding and awareness of issues and perspectives from “me” to “we”. Dialogue helps move people from a self-centered, ‘me’ focus to a more aware and inclusive ‘we’ focus. At the beginning, participants engage in ‘nice talk’ – polite but guarded conversation where the core issues are only surfaced without speaking to the deeply held beliefs, histories, and values underneath. In ‘tough talk”, participants risk divulging the differences and tensions and disagreements that separate them from other views. In ‘reflective talk’, participants extend a willingness to consider and truly ‘hear’ the views of others, and in the final ‘generative talk’, participants see themselves as intrinsically bound within a larger whole and generate new options and solutions that are reflective of the shift from ‘me’ to ‘we’. This movement in focus and relationships can be characterized as an enhancement in the individual and collective level of consciousness of the group.
Provocative Proposition Dialogue is a powerful process to enhance the level of human consciousness. The creation of more positive human futures depends on transcending competing and conflicting views to a larger and more compelling whole that all can align with. Don Beck in Spiral Dynamics calls this a ‘supra-ordinate’ goal – one that is desirable by all, but that none of the players can achieve on their own; it requires the active support and participation of the whole. Spiral Dynamics also suggests that the evolution of human consciousness from one development level to another is brought about by such supra-ordinate goals and shifts. Thus, dialogue can be seen as a powerful tool to contribute to a shift to higher human consciousness. (Caveat: Don Beck warns that dialogue – a primarily ‘green’ (communitarian; social-network) v-meme process, is totally ineffective to deal with ‘red’ (power; exploitive) v-meme situations and individuals. The only response that ‘red’ respects is a ‘red/blue’ response – consequences backed up with power.)
Dialogue as a Tool for Peaceful Conflict Transformation, The edition of Dialogue as a Tool for Peaceful Conflict Transformation, Magna Terra editores in October 2004.
- Nice talk – as the group first meets, conversation is limited to polite and guarded exchanges, and agreements on rules and norms of behaviour to ensure a sense of safety and order. Issues are raised superficially without delving into the underlying structures of belief, history, values and differences (cultural, religious, gender, age, etc.)
- Tough talk – participants take more risks to disclose their views, and to disagree; tensions, challenges; conflict issues become more visible
- Reflective talk – willingness to consider the issue from another’s perspective; to hear, see, own the perspective of others – represents the first shift from ‘me’ to ‘we’.
- Generative talk – participants recognize their interconnectedness to the larger whole, and generate solutions, options and possibilities reflective of that understanding; what is good for ‘us’ and not just for ‘me’.