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A MODEL OF DIALOGUE
To help organize our thinking and to make it easier to recall the
principles (and when to apply them), let’s look at the model
shown in Figure 1 0- 1 . It begins with concentric circles-like a
target. Notice that the center circle is the Pool of Shared
Meaning-it’s the center of the target, or the aim of dialogue.
When meaning flows freely, it finds its way into this pool, which
represents people’s best collective thinking.
Surrounding the Pool of Shared Meaning is safety. Safety
allows us to share meaning and keeps us from moving into
silence or violence. When conversations become crucial, safety
must be strong.
Watch for games. Next you’ll notice that we’ve portrayed the
behaviors to watch when thinking about safety. These are the six
silence and violence behaviors we look for in others and in out-
Figure 1 0- 1 . The Dialogue Model
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER 1 83
Figure 1 0-2. The Dialogue Model
breaks of our own Style Under Stress. When we see these or sim
ilar behaviors, we know that safety is weak. This is a cue to step
out of the content of the conversation, strengthen safety, and
then step back in. Remember, don’t back away or weaken the
argument. Just rebuild safety. Do it quickly. The further you
move from dialogue into silence or violence, the harder it is to
get back and the greater the costs.
Now, let’s add people to our model.
Me and Others. (Figure 1 0-2) . You are the “ME” arrow on the
model. Others are included in the “OTHER” arrow. The arrows
(both pointed to the center of the pool) show that both we and
others are in dialogue. All our meaning is flowing freely into the
shared pool. Learn to Look means we watch for when either of
these two arrows begins to point upward or downward, toward
silence or violence. When this happens, either you or others are
starting to play games.
Watching and building conditions. (Figure 1 0-3). When you
sec yourself drift ing to sikncc or violence, Start with Heart. Keep
1 84 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
Figure 1 0-3. The Dialogue Model
yourself in dialogue by focusing on what you really want and then
behaving as if you really do want it. A void the Sucker’s Choices
that make it appear as if silence and violence are the only options.
When your emotions start running strong and taking control of
the conversation, use the Master My Stories principle to bring
your arrow back to the Pool of Shared Meaning. Retrace your Path
to Action, watch for clever stories, and tell the rest of the story.
When others move to silence or violence, Make It Safe. As we
strengthen safety, others are more likely to lay aside their silence
and violence and move back toward dialogue in the center.
What to do. The next three principles teach us what to do with
our meaning. First, we learned to STATE My Path. We share our
own sensitive or controversial views by following our Path to
Action. We share the facts first and then tentatively share our
story. We then demonstrate we’re serious about dialogue by
encouraging others to share their story (Figure 1 0-4 )-especially
if it’s different from our own.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER 1 85
Figure 1 0-4. The Dialogue Model
To help others share their meaning, we Explore Others’ Paths.
We ask, mirror, paraphrase, and prime (AMPP) as needed to get
to their feelings, stories, and facts. As we use these skills effec
tively, we demonstrate that their concerns are discussable-that
dialogue can actually work. This helps others feel safer sur
rendering their silence and violence and joining us in dialogue.
Finally, with the Pool of Shared Meaning full, we Move to
Action. We ensure that we are clear about how decisions are
being made and about what the decisions are. And we follow up
to ensure that dialogue leads to positive actions and results.
You can use the Dialogue Model first to diagnose what’s going
un. Remember to ask: “Where am I?” ”Where are others?” “Are we
in dialogue or in some form of silence or violence?”
Next ask, “Where do I want to be?” “Where do I want others to
be?” The principles and tools become the methods and means to
get to dialogue.
1 86 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS