Saturday, December 24, 2016

It's time to celebrate the NE...

Have you noticed how sometimes you can anticipate what someone else says or does... especially those closest to you?  It's uncanny how our minds fill in the blanks, answer questions before they are asked, or expect another person to act a certain way!

But, before we go any further, let's see how you do in the following exercise:
  • On a blank piece of paper, make three columns, and
    • Write down words that fulfill   N E _
    • Write down words that fulfill   N E _ _
    • Write down words that fulfill   N E ...

Without showing your paper or revealing the instructions ahead of time, give someone close to you a blank sheet of paper and ask this person to make these three lists.  Together, compare your papers.  What do you notice?  Any similaritiesAny differences?

Now, if you dare, find someone you don't know very well -- maybe someone from a different region of the U.S. or a different culture or who doesn't speak your primary language.  Give this person the same instructions.  Compare the results from your list and the other two lists.  What observations can you make... about words listed?... about how the lists were displayed on the paper?... about whether the instructions were followed exactly the same?

What do you see?
It seems that some people hear the punctuation through tone of voice while others see it through visual cuesLike the exercise, we fill in the blanks, creating definitions of what one space, two spaces, or three dots may mean.  And then, at times, it seems that we want our answers to be the right ones!  What do we do then?  Do we defend our interpretations?  Do we try to figure out the differences and sort through what is reasonable?  Do we listen to the other person's interpretations and insights? 

As I continue to 'practice dialogue,' I find that I sometimes am locked into My Way of hearing and seeing.  It is as if My Upbringing -- family, culture, education, the many ways I learned -- define the rules and experiences that I live by even to this day.  And, shockingly, I sometimes realize these rules may not be the same for the person next to me!

Look at an object familiar to most of us:  a chair.  What makes a chair... 'a chair'?  Who created its structure?  Who taught us its function?  And, when entering a conference room and seeing an empty chair, how do we know what to do?  This is an example of an SCR (Socially Constructed Reality): we have created and defined the object.  It's what gives our society structure and cohesion... until something unexpected happens or someone doesn't know The Rules!

When we see a chair, how do we know what to do?
In the first photo, did you identify the hands as chairs?  When did you see any differences... or did you?  And, what would you do if you saw two empty chairs in the middle of an alley?  Would you necessarily fulfill their function by sitting down?  It depends?  Not necessarily?

Are you suggesting that we have a choice?  That we don't always have to follow the defined SCR when it is noticed?

The magic of anticipation and surprise
An invitation for this week:
  • Notice SCRs that have defined or affected your relationships.
  • Consider that you may not know what another person is thinking and feeling.
  • Ask questions without anticipating the answers.
  • Listen, and be surprised by the Gifted-People in your life who are slowly being  unwrapped.

2016:  Thank You!
2017:  Welcome!  

This week, may we be thankful for the people who have crossed our paths in 2016... and may we hold gently the Unwrapped Gift of 2017, cuddled sacredly in our arms!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Emergence: A Time for Reflection

I don't know about you, but when I enter the final weeks of each calendar year, I find that my mind automatically reflects on the past.  Maybe it's natural to compare Christmas Present with Christmas Past; plus, wonder about Christmas FutureMaybe after this eventful year with its emphasis on the presidential and local elections - differing candidates, visions, promises, propositions, and initiatives - that it is natural to wonder where we are headed.  Maybe with the blur of activity from work, holiday shopping, family gathering, and planning, we naturally seek the benefits of slowing down and reflecting! 

Or, maybe it is time to emerge from all that has distracted us... and notice.  In the midst of this final busy week before Christmas, maybe... it is just time!

Is there anything that has distracted you this year?
Many definitions of emergence describe an action:
  1. to come forth into view or notice, as from concealment or obscurity;
  2. to come into existence, as to develop;
  3. to rise, as from an inferior or unfortunate state or condition. 
For each one of us, I wonder what is trying to come forth, to come into existence or to rise as we transition from gift-giving and receiving, from holidays and vacations to normal routines, from one presidential administration to another, from activity to reflection?

Learning to slow down and notice is like looking through a knothole into a construction site.  It is with a desire to look (curiosity).  It is with the expectation that the view will be limited (awareness).  It is with an understanding that what we see is 'in progress' (waiting).

Questions to consider as you peer into the knothole of your life's construction:
  • Am I noticing memories that touch my curiosity, open my awareness, or suggest a period of waiting? 
  • What stories am I holding onto and retelling?
  • How might I let go of experiences that are painful or destructive?

Our lives are under constant construction
During a time when I was struggling with a supervisor, a colleague said to me, "Larry, do you realize that we are all making it up as we go along?"  For me, this was a life-changing revelation:  I assumed that someone had The Plan, that someone had The Answer, that someone knew The Direction!   To come face-to-face with these inner beliefs or SCRs (socially constructed realities) freed me from feeling left out and inadequate.  Suddenly, I understood compassion and interdependence in a different way.

As I reflect on this past year, I am noticing:
  • Walls that have been constructed.  I wonder if it is time to create points of entry?
  • Times when I focused on myself.  I wonder if it is time to reach out? 
  • Possibilities that have remained unexplored.  I wonder if it time to try new ideas?

Is it time to find an opening in the walls we have created?
(Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside)
Dynamic Dialogue's Ways of Being invite us to create bridges over and entry points through the walls that separate and divide us:
  • Awareness:  what do I notice about myself and about you?
  • Compassion:  can I show kindness, empathy and forgiveness for myself and you?
  • Interdependence:  am I willing to accept and rely on the connections between us?
  • Creative Freedomcan we explore new ideas, and wait expectantly for different possibilities to emerge?

May this week of gathering and sharing, of Holy Birth and Emergence, bring moments of reflection and wonder!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Walls or Bridges: What Do We Notice?

I love to travel!  It gives me an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone, to look anew at the world we live in, and to experience cultures and traditions that may be unfamiliar or strange to my way of thinking.  I also notice my reactions to people from my countryAmericans, who are sometimes at their best and who sometimes reveal our parochial or insulated tendencies!

Traveling, in many ways, is about walls and bridges: structures that obstruct our journey or provide passage to other realities.

No matter how beautiful the walls may be,
they oftentimes restrict the view
(Colonial Antigua, Guatemala)

How many of the following situations sound familiar?  (They all happened on my last voyage!)
  • Scenario 1:  A tourist interrupted the tour guide, "Tell us about what we are seeing, not things about your country."
I noticed that I cringed at this American tourist's comment.  I then wondered how often I say or think the same: tell me what I want to hear, not what you have to tell me.  A wall instead of a bridge?
  • Scenario 2:  Tourist A asked Tourist B: "Are you from Arizona?"  Tourist B's response, said in a defensive tone:  "No!  I am from California!  Why would you think that I am from Arizona?"  Tourist A, apologetically replied"Oh, I saw your Arizona T-shirt, and I am from Arizona,"  with Tourist B abruptly closing out the exchange:  "Well, I have T-shirts from Mexico and Panama, but I don't live there either!"
I noticed that the first tourist was trying to build a connection and I was surprised at the abruptness of the second tourist.  This jolt allowed me to notice others things about myself.

I wondered how often, like Tourist A, I try to make connections through my observations and curiosity.  But, because my assumptions may be wrong, a wall is built instead.  And, like Tourist B, I wondered how often I become upset when another person's assumptions misrepresent who I really am.  Questions I may need to consider:  What do I 'externally wear' that adds to another person's observations?  Am I willing to answer questions that allow bridge-building instead of wall-defending? 
  • Scenario 3:  With a passenger manifest from Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and countries throughout Central and South America, I overheard one American tourist laughing at and commenting about another person's accent and use of a specific phrase.
What seemed funny to me about this situationI noticed that the person who was joking about the passenger had a very thick Southern drawl.  I wondered:
  • How often do I not see or hear myself the way others do?
  • Do I hear my own accent or strange use of words?
Bridge of the Americas: connecting peoples of two continents
Walls or bridges?  The challenge in these complex times is the realization that we have a choice in which structure to use:  walls to protect and keep others out or bridges to connect and support!

So, to reveal an experiment:  review the blog posting of November 12:  Elections, Reflections: Dialogue and Healing - A Beginning (click on blog title).  Do you see anything unusual in this entry?

Electoral Map 2016:
Divided by Red and Blue boundaries
When I published this November posting, I expected someone would correct me or make an observation of a "mistake" made in the posting.   But, having no queries, I wondered:
  • Are our filters and perceptions so immediate and ingrained that we don't always see  the reality embedded in the situation?
  • As a society, are we too polite to speak up?
  • Are we so used to the walls that divide that we don't see the bridges that connect?
  • Or, maybe no one read the blog!

What is unusual about this November blog?  Red State is colored in blue and Blue State is colored in redHow many of us read Red State and Blue State not realizing the colors in the blog were opposite what the words represented?

In other words, what blinders or barriers have we set up in our mental models that keep us from actually seeing Reality?

As we enter these final weeks leading into the Christmas season, we are invited to slow down and Notice What is RealMaybe consider the following questions:
  • How often do I see and hear what I want to see and hear?
  • In what ways can I learn to listen and hear what others are saying?
  • How might I ask and open myself to what you are experiencing?

May this week be one of exploration and decisions: shall we build walls or bridges?

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting