Better Conversations by Jim Knight
Habit 1: Demonstrating empathy
Habit 2: Listening with empathy
Listening with empathy, the idea sounds easy, but it is very challenging to adhere to this principle in a conversation. We often have to make decisions under pressures at school. If decisions are not made, that often means another meeting, and finding a common time to meet during the school hours is not always easy. I sometimes find myself multitasking on my computer when the topic was not relevant to me in a meeting. I was also sometimes eager to present my ideas and opinions, being conscious of the time, and interrupted other people's thoughts. I do think this is rude and shows my lack of respect to others. I want to work on this and practice on being an effective listener. I want to remind myself of the importance of pausing in a conversation and listening without judgement in order to understand other people's world views. Jim knight provides four strategies to become an effective listener in his book.
Habit 3: Fostering dialogue
Fostering Dialogue, we humbly let go of the notion that there is only one right answer⎯our answer!⎯and instead, we choose to see conversation as a testing ground for ideas. A dialogical conversation is something we co-construct with others so everyone in the conversation can learn and grow.
- An assumption I have is...
- I'd be curious to hear what other are thinking about this issue." (Garmston and Wellman, 2016)
Simply put, in dialogue, interlocutors who hold equal status take time to listen to other voices and possibilities. It's an opportunity for us to invite collective intelligence, build relationships, and engage intentionally to achieve mutual understanding. It's a caring behaviour. Our assumptions, however, often prevent us from having dialogue. They reflect our worldview, emotions, moral perspectives, culture, and beliefs. Once our assumptions are challenged, we feel threatened and activate our fight-or-flight response. Therefore, dialogue is also a process for us to discover our unknown assumptions.
The author explained that we can foster dialogue by balancing advocacy and inquiry. As stated in the book on page 78:
- Advocacy means speaking what you think, speaking from a point of view.
- Inquiry means looking into what you do not yet understanding, or seeking to discover what others see and understand that may be different from you point of view.
This highlights the benefit of using protocols to encourage participants in sharing their voices and ask questions to clarify, probe, and reparaphrase.
Habit 4: Asking better questions
I made a close connections with Bréne Brown's Dare to Lead. In dialogue, we need to prepare to be wrong and embrace our fear, and have courage to ask better questions. She created a cheatsheet to show one can be brave and keep their mind open for productive conversations in her blog post, Let's Rumble. I personally found this cheatsheet very useful.
The missing ingredients in most conversations are curiosity and willingness to ask questions to which we do not already know the answers. (Edgar Schein)
Habit 5: Making emotional connections
Habit 6: Being a witness to the good
Habit 7: Finding common ground
- Garmston, Robert J., and Bruce M. Wellman. The Adaptive School: a Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
- Knight, Jim. Better Conversations. Crown A Sage Company, 2016.