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Friday, September 08, 2006

Solutions for Talkers Taking Over

People have agreed in my San Rafael Dialogue group that they're trying to get people who have trouble talking to speak up. The people who talk often, they're trying to get them to talk for less time. We've tried some experiments in the last three Dialogues to address this.

It's a little paradoxical to do this by limiting how people are allowed to talk by declaring it isn't appropriate to talk about the past, tell stories or reiterate personal experience, but that's what the guys settled on. Considering the length of how the conclusive talkers are still able to continue to talk using this format of leaving out these talking styles, these ideas for a remedy are not working so well. It leaves people out who won't dare to transgress the rules. It's an insulting interruption that can be trotted out at any time to stop someone from talking.

Strict rules have been anthema to David Bohm style Dialogue. I actually prefer the story instead of the conclusion, (I'm also not the only dialoguer present who prefers this.) I'd rather hear the raw material of someone's story and have the experience as they tell it. Hearing a series of conclusions, with no idea how someone arrived at them, leaves little room for understanding any new or old processes of the person talking. The stories of other people have all the new information for me.

Why keep same experiment in repeated Dialogues when it's not working? Why don't we create another experiment? If the problem is certain people talking too long, why not people volunteer to talk less and declare it at the beginning of Dialogue - or some other such experiment?

I've got a suggestion; why don't we make it a policy for some period of time, say every fifteen minutes, that the people who have already spoken will agree to stop talking and allow those who have not spoken to say something, even if it's just a minute of silence. I'm sure the group can tolerate silence for three minutes if it's done every half hour or a minute of silence every fifteen minutes. But it's more likely that the people who haven't been talking will speak up.

In practice, we may need a way to stop people from continuing to talk, but we would want to allow them to finish what they're saying. Perhaps we could put our bell in the middle so anyone can ring it at a fifteen minute interval? When the bell rings, perhaps the person who is talking, when they finish, they can invite the other people who haven't said anything yet to comment, and declare a few minutes of silence from those who have already spoken. If it's done regularly, then it isn't targeting any particular person, but only providing something for the whole group.

So, let's try anything else. Let's try multiple possibilities. I'm sure we can come up with many, many experiments to address this challenge.

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