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1 82 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS

A MODEL OF DIALOGUE

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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

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