What is meant by Dialog

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Source : https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/cnvc-futur/C06C852B-A4AD-406F-B1E1-ED6DCB9EB804%40wentworth.bz?utm_medium=email&utm_source=footer 23/06/2018 at 03:28 UTC+2

SUMMARY: I suggest that it may support clarity to distinguish between

(1) Nominal Dialog (which only means that words are exchanged),

(2) Life-Serving Dialog (involving connection, shared understanding, and care for all), and

(3) Conflict Transforming Dialog (which is Life-Serving Dialog with an additional intention to actively work to find strategies that could work for everyone).  

I specifically long for the Board to engage in Conflict Transforming Dialog, which I perceive as having been entirely absent from their group-level interactions.

Recently, a posting on the trainers list asserted that “there have have already been multiple dialogs” involving the Board. This suggests to me that it may be important to distinguish different uses of the word “dialog.” To support clear discussion, I offer 3 definitions (which make sense to me):

  1. Nominal Dialog - In this usage, “dialog” is happening if words are being exchanged. These may be life-serving or life-alienating words. There may be connection happening, or there may be a sense of no meaningful connection. All that is required is that words are being exchanged.
  2. Life-Serving (NVC-Based) Dialog - In this usage, “dialog” is happening if there is attention being given to achieving connection, shared understanding, and an experience of care for all involved. Ideally, both parties experience it as being this sort of conversation.
  3. Conflict Transforming (NVC-Based) Dialog - In this usage, “dialog” is happening if it a Life-Serving Dialog AND, in addition, there is a mutual intention to attend to all the needs that are alive and to search for strategies that could work for all involved. Ideally, participants are committed to persist in the face of difficulties, towards the goal of transforming conflict and restoring connection.

I feel clear that when I and others are now asking the Board to engage in “dialog,” we are referring specifically to Conflict Transforming (NVC-Based) Dialog.

The difference between power-over and power-with is a key differentiation within NVC. Marshall writes “Research shows that companies, families, or schools that use power-over tactics pay for it indirectly through moral problems, violence, and subtle actions against the system.” (Speak Peace in a World of Conflict) When a group has an ability to make decisions that have large impacts on others, as does the Board, I understand whether that group chooses to relate via power-over or power-with to have a particularly large impact. I long for the leadership of an organization that promotes NVC to be willing to apply its power in a power-with way, and to be willing to apply NVC to resolving conflicts. I so long to experience leadership acting in congruence with the practice of NVC.

In terms of what dialog the Board has offered:

  • I have a strong impression that most — if not all  — of the communications of the Board as a whole have been “dialog” only in the sense of Nominal Dialog. And, that there there have been significant blocks of time and ways in which even this form of dialog has not been fully available.
  • I am not aware that the current CNVC Board, collectively, has ever engaged in Conflict Transforming Dialog in relation to the Implementation Council or the implementation of the New Future Plan.
  • Nor am I certain that the Board has, collectively (as opposed to individually), ever even engaged in Life-Serving Dialog with the Implementation Council.
  • I acknowledge that recently there has recently been Conflict Transforming Dialog at an individual level, in the form of in-person mediation sessions in the Netherlands involving Elkie Deadman and Jeyanthy Siva (of the Implementation Council) and Jan Carel van Dorp (of the CNVC Board). So far two sessions have occurred in this process.  I see this a beneficial. Yet, I do not see individual processes as being the same as, or a replacement for, the Board as a whole engaging in a Conflict Transforming Dialog. Given my sense that there is a disconnect between groups, and that strong feelings are not limited to just a few individuals, I feel concerned that processes between individuals may have limited effectiveness in transforming the group-level conflict.
  • I understand that there was one substantive conversation between Dominic Barter and the Board, since the Board’s letter. I am not in a position to assess whether I would call that Nominal Dialog or Life-Serving Dialog. I have a strong impression that it did not rise to the level of being a Conflict Transforming Dialog, in the way that I use that term.
  • Disclaimer: Neither Alex Censor, who offered that there had “already been multiple dialogs,” nor I, are among those directly involved in these exchanges.

I hope that by having some language to make distinctions between different types of dialog, we can achieve more clarity about what has and has not happened, and what is wanted.

* * *

I understand the practice of NVC as involving willingness to engage in Conflict Transformation Dialog when one is involved in is a significant conflict. (Or, failing that, to find some other way to “Do no harm.”)

Do others share a sense that this is a core aspect of practicing NVC? (Personally, I feel concerned at the thought of any version of “NVC” in which this, or something close to it, is not the case.)

* * *

I do not have specific requests. I am open to responses, particularly regarding whether (and how) this has landed as a contribution for you.

Thank you for your consideration,

Bob