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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Exploring New Conversations

Exploring New Conversations

Are you among the many people moving through Green and into Yellow/Teal who are getting impatient or bored with trivial, banal, "small-talk?" That seems to be one of the markers of this transition. It seems to me worthwhile to walk around this phenomenon and explore it from several angles. The risk I see is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Four kinds/levels/stages of conversation

One very rich and growthful angle is to study Otto Scharmer's "4 kinds of conversations" analysis. I cannot recommend your study of this strongly enough. (The linked page is a short introduction.)

May you be lucky enough to find a practice group built around this exploration, as I did. It was quite the eye-opener, to deliberately practice each of the 4 kinds of conversation and see what each did to my consciousness.

These 4 kinds of conversations represent a spectrum, or actually several spectra, of development, of purposes for the conversation, etc. They range from "talking nice" (no self-reflection, nothing new) to "debating" to empathetic yet subjective/inquiry-curiosity dialogue, to generative dialogue for co-creation, built on primacy of the whole and aimed at enacting emerging futures.

The function of smalltalk in online conversations

Another angle is to see whether there's a balance between "meaningful conversation" and seemingly useless trivia like acknowledging receipt of an email by a word or two. Let's dive into that.

It seems to be characteristic of Yellow-consciousness businesses and organizations that the small communications that used to be called "politeness" that "greases the social wheels" are common. 

Perhaps that's more necessary in online communications than skin-life conversations, where there is parallel subliminal body-language perceptible conveying the response to a communication. 

Online, the "netiquette" or "culture" in Yellow consciousness seems to be hitting Reply and sending a smile, or brief words like Got it, Wow, Thanks, Hmmmmm, or anything else, often conveyed via an emoticon--that all serves the purpose of letting the sender/speaker know their communication hasn't disappeared into the black hole of internet hyperspace.

The function of smalltalk for Wholeness and Bond-building

Yet another angle is to see that in Yellow consciousness, all previous stages can be drawn upon to form a richer, stronger relationship that is multi-colored. That means seemingly trivial "small talk" about seemingly trivial matters can actually be bond-building, by including all facets of our humanity in the relationship, whether it's about the weather or sports or our relatives. 

All four kinds of conversation in the Scharmer model have their usefulness for bond-building and as "community glue."

Is intolerance of smalltalk narcissistic?

Of course, we have a tolerance limit for trivial talk, most of us can attest. And I would suggest that the greater our intolerance of anything but "meaningful conversation," the more we might be exhibiting a regression to, or hangover from, the "what's in it for me" limited perspective of First Tier--rather than the diversity-embracing, bond-building perspective of Second Tier. 

A good question is: Am I focused only on what I personally find interesting or exciting, or am I sensing what the relationship might benefit from, given my purpose in the relationship, or given my caring for the other person?

Small-talking through the stages

I again strongly recommend reading and studying the reference above to the 4 kinds of conversations because they represent different stages in the development of consciousness.

"Greasing the social wheels" can start as relationship advice to the teenager (or as "say 'Thank You'" to the toddler) from mother in Blue, and continue in Orange from the perspective of a way of getting to my goals via other people. It can show up in Green as empathy, respect, and community-bonding. 

(We might even see it in Red as formal bows, ritual acknowledgments, and attempts to appear or behave as similar to others.)

In Yellow, it seems to have more a flavor of "we are a single system co-creating our shared purpose, so let's communicate as completely as we can, optimize our information flow, for that."

And perhaps in Turquoise, there is more of a felt sense of such responses to communications without the need for overt behavior, even in online situations. "I knew you got it, and I felt your response of amazement/puzzlement/annoyance....."

Can this be a meaningful conversation?

What else could be said for a "generative dialogue?" Leave a comment below!

by Rev. Alia Aurami, Ph.D., 
Head Minister, 
Amplifying Divine Light in All Church
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