Tag Archives: Shared Inquiry

Improvising Breakthroughs in Difficult Conversations

Written by . Filed under Act, Learn, Play. Tagged , . 1 Comment.

How can we engage in difficult conversations in a way that is productive, satisfying, and even FUN?

How can we open ourselves to learn something new about the other person’s perspective?

What is the difference between a response and a reaction?

DwD-Lauren

Lauren Stein presented an interactive, experiential exploration of “difficult conversations” at November’s DwD, engaging about 30 people in playful ways to approach these conversations – expressed as speaking and listening to concerns about criticism, personal emotions, relationships, money, and fears. Using the tools and experiences of improvisational theatre, Lauren showed us how to slow down conversations to separate reactions from responses. The goal of experiential learning was to identify and use internal information, both intellectual and emotional, to construct respectful responses rather than triggered or knee-jerk reactions.

Lauren emphasized the  philosophy of “Yes/And” as a relational tool, a way to stay on the same side of the other person, even if we disagree about a particular issue.  The exercises – from opening circle to improvisational conversation theatre – all reinforced the importance of an open and curious attitude.

From the very start, the OCADU Auditorium was buzzing with discussions, from the introductions, to paired exchanges into questions, to exercises exhausting the imaginative space of asking questions.

Some participants were asked deep questions and discovered things they did not know about themselves. People learned and took home new games for conversational exploration, such as the Curiosity Game and the Questions Game (based on the idea of asking your partner about anything you’re curious about). One couple even reportedly resolved a personal dispute just by using the improv principle of “Yes, And.”

Hobeen-Peter

The final exercise involved volunteer demonstrations of improvised conversations between participants acting out scenes drawn from their own feeling states.

Here two DwD participants, Hobeen and Peter improvise an emotional exchange between a worn-out boxer and his coach, both struggling with the will to win and the meaning of the match. Lauren skillfully set up the pair to adopt postures and positions, wait for the impulse, and to create the context and conversation as it emerged.

Lauren reminds us that sometimes the highest we can achieve from a difficult conversation is to understand the other person’s point of view and remain respectful.

 

About the Host

Warrior Woman-sm

Lauren Stein is director of Laurentina’s Improv Club, where she performs and facilitates improvisational theatre experiences. She has taught and performed all over the world, including Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Ireland, and Switzerland. With a Master’s in Expressive Arts Therapy from European Graduate School, she helps people awaken their creativity and overcome life’s hurdles through play.

The Humble Power of Non-Directive Communication

Written by . Filed under Reflection, Understand. Tagged , , . 3 Comments.

The intentions for this DwD were to explore two contexts:

  • How do we avoid personal bias when facilitating authentic & emergent dialogue?
  • How do we create open spaces in communication for deep listening and sharing?

Stephen Sillett hosted our July 2015 inquiry into non-directive communication. Peter Jones presented a dialogue from Ed Schein’s Humble Inquiry, and Stephen held an experiential activity with David Grove’s Clean Language methods. We touched on open and shared conversation experiences of forming and asking questions, touching on how power relations, culture and personal assumptions influence how we ask questions.

Humble inquiry is an approach to creating better working relationships with people in interdependent situations. Schein simply calls this “the gentle art of asking rather than telling.” However, as with most of his work it goes well beyond good management, it’s an approach we can all learn from for better relationships and more effective team and partnership work.

Humble Inquiry is the skill and art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.

Schein notes three modes of humility – Basic humility, Optional humility, and Here and Now humility. We always have a choice to approach a situation as an inquiry, with questions that invite the other person to share, to ascend a bit. We allow the other to be the expert in their own experience. This is especially powerful when you as the questioner may already be in a more powerful status.

humble-sm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean Language

Clean Language draws from techniques developed by David Grove, derived from counseling, and used  in organizational development and group facilitation. Several books and materials available on the Clean Language website provide pathways for interested participants to follow. Stephen will be running clean language workshops in the future and can be contacted at stephen@adcid.org

These activities can be very powerful, especially when exploring emotive, complex or confusing situations. It slows down our everyday way of communicating, which is often goal-directed and constrained by time, inhibiting our capacity for clear, clean communication.

This approach involves formulating questions that focus attention and develops a person’s understanding, without adding the questioners’ own needs and advice to the balance of conversation.

Experiencing the Process in Embodied Metaphors

The exploration of metaphors was initiated through a person’s real incident in the past expressed using “body images”. This help to give a strong anchor, from which to process the meaning using “clean language” to enable the participant to build a deeper understanding of what is happening.

As shown in the photograph, other participants played roles in the metaphor through an image theatre method.

tableau

 

 

Voice Qualities

David Grove deliberately ‘marked out’ his use of Clean Language through changes to his normal way of speaking:

  • The speed of his delivery is slower than half normal pace
  • He uses a slightly deeper tonality than normal speaking
  • He often uses a distinctive sing-song rhythm
  • There is an implied sense of curiosity and wonder in his voice
  • The client’s idiosyncratic pronunciation, emphasis, sighs etc. are matched

Syntax: The syntax of Clean Language is peculiar and would sound very strange if used in normal conversation! It uses Pacing and Leading in a particular way. For example, all the questions begin with “and” and are orientated to the clients ‘perceptual present’. The generalised syntax, in its full form, comprises 4 components:

“And [pacing clients words]

+ And as/when

+ [question]

+ [refer to this particular experience]”

 

About the Host

ssillettStephen Sillett is co-executive director of Aiding Dramatic Change ~ in Development (ADCID), and helps the organization research, facilitate and direct dialogue, drama and art processes for healing and community development. Through ADCID projects and in partnership with other social actors, he is exploring approaches that engage community members in conversations, consciously orientated to maturing visions of the future. Research interests include the facilitation of non-verbal and spatial meaning-making practices within group workshop and the creation of interactive performance. He directs InFusion Labs where theatre artists, therapists, scientists and social practitioners explore spatial approaches to exploration and discovery.

To learn more and ask questions to practitioners visit ADCID’s Linkedin Group or Facebook Page