I keep looking at this topic and occasionally come up with a new idea to help people from falling into the catastrophies of argument (two bullies going at each other) – for helping people stay in dialogue and dialogical space. Here is a real simple idea. It is all about where is your focus. Here are five examples in both formats.
- MasterTalk: You are a liar. Dialogue: I think you are a liar.
- MasterTalk: George W Bush is a patriot. Dialogue: I believe George W Bush is a patriot.
- MasterTalk: You forgot to take out the trash yesterday. Dialogue: I recall you forgetting to take out the trash yesterday.
- MasterTalk (Passive form): What is the best way to do this? Dialogue: I am wondering about what is the best way to do this?
- MasterTalk (Passive form): When do we meet next? Dialogue: I want a decision about the time of our next meeting.
Of course, one thing you might note is that MasterTalk always seems unclear as to where this phrase (whose head) is coming from, or where (whose head) you want the data to come from. I think this lack of clarity is both part of the problem and a useful clue.
Something more clear came to me a few weeks back. It popped into my mind when I heard someone who spoke dialogically and their partner responded to their sentence as if it were MasterTalk – defensively and with anger. I realized the listener was not hearing the whole sentence their partner said.
Look at that first sentence again and break it into two parts.
I believe people who are in Friend/Friend relating, dialogical, focus on the first part of the sentence. Part A clarifies where these words (the data in Part B) are coming from. A dialogical response focuses on Part A. “Oh, so that is what you are thinking. Share more about what lead you to think that.”
I believe people in Master/Slave relating (either Master or Slave or Passive Master) focus on the second part of the sentence. It seems as if they don’t even hear the first part or they leave it out! Their response tends to be that second Part B. “I am not a liar!”
The way to keep safe, sane, and relaxed, I believe, is to focus on the first Part A, whether you are the sender or the receiver. Think of Part B as a just a little data. Simple!
“I believe” (unspoken) “George W Bush is a patriot.” A Friend response is, “Oh really? What makes you believe that?”
“I recall” (unspoken) “You forgot to take out the trash yesterday.” Friend response is, “Ok, you thought I was supposed to take out the trash yesterday and are thinking that I forgot. Tell me more?”
You might want to put this up on your wall.