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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Is Respect Shown by Offering or Receiving?

I'd like to explore this idea that talking or listening are two ends of the stick of how respect is shown. Because I'm not so sure that this it true. Sometimes it's respectful to be the one who does all the talking - because the other person wants to listen! Sometimes it's respectful to interrupt - because if you don't, the other person will just keep talking indefinitely because they feel awkward that nobody is talking - or because they're used to being entertaining.

I think that what is respectful depends on the situation at hand - and that is different for different people in different subcultures.

I think that it's true that for there to be a relationship - someone has to be playing both parts of whatever each person believes the relationship to be. I'm not sure that listening is so much better than talking - I think they're equal, all things considered. Of course, if you listen, you end up getting a whole lot more than when you're the one who is talking, usually. So in the realm of giving and taking - the giver is supposed to be the more ethically valued one in our culture and the givee is supposed to be devalued because they're on the receiving end - but the situation needs the givee. So how is the listener, who is the givee, is deemed to be the less desirable one when it comes to talking? I don't quite understand how that came to be in our culture when giving and taking are defined the way they are.

People when they first show up at the Dialogue group aren't used the the fact that those of us in the dialogue are interested in what they had to say. Mostly people are only interested in when you're going to stop talking so they can talk, or at least, that's the situational competition of the real estate of time that is usually available. I guess people imagine that if you are not talking, you don't have anything to offer.

It's a circumstantial competition for the space to say something. We only have a few hours together, mostly, until people disappear for another month off into the woodwork. People react in different ways. Having all the attention of all the other people in the dialogue is a little strange for most people. Never having been in the circumstance where people wanted to hear what they had to say, they had a lot to say to everyone. Then as time would go on, the need for having things to say would die down sort of naturally.

It has always been an interesting process to watch in a newcomer who has made themselves a part of a Dialogue group. When and how do they speak up to offer something?

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