A number of years ago my wife and I attended a workshop on how to facilitate dialogue. The session was led by our colleagues Will Stockton and Marjorie Herdes of Mobius, Inc. They do tremendous work, especially facilitating large group and community dialogue sessions, using a “roadmap” they’ve evolved over the years which they call the Mobius Model.
In the course of our workshop they facilitated a dialogue between us around something that had happened awhile back about which we had different views. It wasn’t a huge issue between us but, experiencing my end of the dialogue with my wife, I stumbled upon a huge insight.
It is so very easy to stop listening to the other person and, while they are still talking, shift over to making judgment calls about what they are saying. I fancied myself as an expert in interpersonal communications, so I was doubly infuriated to see myself doing this. She would make a point and, in the privacy of my mind I would begin a silent monologue about how…
- she had that point wrong
- her recollection was clearly faulty here
- there is a good reason why I said what I did (in the situation under discussion)
- I will respond just as soon as she stops talking
True, clear, open communication is easy–in theory. Daily we fool ourselves that we are being attentive and focused on the essence of what the other person is saying. It’s not true. We rarely focus for more than a few precious seconds–just long enough for them to get out a complete thought, so we can begin crafting an “editorial” about it in our mind.
Don’t believe me? Start observing your internal dialogue in your next few interactions, Yeah, do it with the next person that walks in the door.