Sunday, February 24, 2019

Dialogue: Searching for the Unexpected, the Unknown

I was intrigued by an an online article that arrived in my work inbox recently, How to See the Unexpected.  Many of the posts I receive are about software design, about user research, creative thinking, mental models... topics to help design teams connect to customers and their expectations when using smart devices, websites, and anything somewhat technical in nature.

This article was different than the others I have read.  It wasn't tekkie or over-the-head.  One quote stood out that I thought was perfect for my understanding of dialogue:

"There is a part of everything which is unexplored. For this reason, the person who learns to truly see will always find something new and interesting."

Searching:  Going Deeper into the Unknown

Like the image of a nautilus chamber, a person practicing dialogue must be willing to move ever closer to the center of what was said or witnessed, seeking to understand the core of a person's intentions.  Moving from one chamber to the next brings a renewed sense of discovery as we focus on what is real... in that moment!

Searching:  Being Caught Up in Discovery
(Photo credit:  Surprising Facts about Spiderwebs, JSTOR)

At the same time, it is important to notice and let go of past webs that may have been created to trap and manipulate others.  As with the resourcefulness of the spider, we are invited to dismantle past silky strands and recreate or reshape our environment into one of safety and discovery, encouraging designs centered on curiosity and learning.

Searching:  For the Smallest Droplets of Beauty in Another
(Photo credit:  Pixdaus)
The person who learns to truly see, therefore, will begin to see beauty and goodness in each person.  Each individual globe is filled with sacredness and worth that is waiting to be seen.  When our minds are open to dialogue -- curiosity that asks questions, listening that truly hears, and understanding that engenders empathy and compassion -- our eyes are open to finding something new and interesting!

Questions to consider:
  • What locks me into one chamber of thinking?
  • What webs have I created or am entangled in?
  •  How might I truly see the beauty and goodness in another person?

May this week bring new images to be discovered and understood!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

When Do We Open Our Eyes?

I am at that age when I am not as nimble, stumble more, and find myself super cautious when walking outside.  It may be due to uneven sidewalks, potholes in the streets, and the e-scooters and bikes scattered around public areas... or... it may be due to getting older!

As I consider these changes in my body and my slower reflexes, I also wonder about the flexibility and adaptability of my thinking.  How often do I close my eyes (and maybe, my mind) to what is happening around me?  How much have I experienced before and am now slower in my willingness to respond and discuss my ideals and values?  Am I developing a longer view of life's mysteries and realize a shorter time to solve any of them?

Are we the first to close our eyes?
* * Click on comic to enlarge * *
(Photo credit:  Pickles, by Brian Crane, 01/15/18)
Through practicing dialogue these past several years, I have been learning that slowing down is actually wise and necessary.  Rather than holding onto conclusions so rashly conceived, I am slowly developing tools to identify assumptions and ask questions of myself and others.

It is almost like opening our eyes after a long sleep and recognizing that there is so much more to see and experience!  In fact, various phases of our lives allow us to acknowledge stages of understanding we move through.  Accepting that every aspect of life invites us to see with a brighter light, we experience a newness not considered before.

Are we willing to wait and experience all phases?
(Photo credit:  25 facts you should know about the
August 21, 2017 solar eclipse, Astronomy)
There is a wonderment when previously unconsidered ideas and options emerge between Self and Other.  It is like a light bulb above a cartoon character or fireworks exploding overhead or a friend's eyes seeing you for the first time.  Thoughts are shared and respected.  Dialogue and inquiry provide moments of curiosity, understanding and acceptance.

We see differently, but we are okay.  We realize there is no need to fear the other.  We coexist, each with our own ideals and values intact.

Do new ideas spark new understanding?

Questions to consider this week:
  • When do I not want to see or understand another person's view?
  • How might I open up to ask questions of discovery?
  • Am I willing to invite others to question my long-held beliefs?

This week, may we notice when our eyes are intentionally closed to disturbances around us.  May we attempt to open our eyes just a little... and peek through the bars of our eye-lashed prisons.  May we seek to understand and be understood.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Passages: Movement Between and Beyond

Passage [pas-ij]:
  • Noun: an act or instance of passing from one place or condition to another; transit.
  • Verb:  to make a passage; cross; pass; voyage.
Each day we wake up and prepare for school or work.  We move from our home to another place.  We switch roles from being a parent, child, brother or sister to that of teacher, student, supervisor, worker, or colleague.  The previous roles still exist, but we are now called to be responsible in a different way.  Even when we retire, we move from one moment of awakening to another as we traverse the day ahead.

Our lives are filled with these Moments of Passage.  And, when we are aware -- when we notice and listen, we are able to distinguish between what is moveable or not; who is willing to listen or not; and how some moments are open to change and discovery... or not. 

Passages:  movement between the immovable

Cruising through the Alaskan waters, I was fascinated by adventurous individuals who were kayaking through the frigid waters.  Here I was bundled up and protected by the ship's environment and many layers of clothes while others chose to discover the beauty of the icebergs and glaciers in a way that put them closer to the water's boundaries.

I wondered:
  • Am I willing to risk vulnerability in order to pass courageously through new discoveries?
  • Am I willing to place myself closer to the boundaries that separate and endanger?
  • Am I willing to ask questions when I listen but don't understand?

Passages:  movement between vulnerability and courage

Dialogue provides moments of passage which allow us to move above and beyond words of disagreement.  Through the learned skill of advocacy and inquiry, we can move from trying to persuade others of the Truth-I-Hold towards exploration and understanding.  By sharing our thought processes, we discover how conclusions were reached and whether these are still valid.  Together, we can rise above our limited views and seek a wider perspective.

Passages:  movement above and beyond
What previously seemed like slow-moving and sometimes immovable glacial fronts in our relationships can begin to break down, providing passage through melting emotion-bergs.  Our lifetime is dotted with instances where we were invited to pass from one condition to another.  Did we take advantage of those moments?  Do we have the courage today?

May this week provide passage moments:  where advocacy, inquiry, and explaining our thought processes can open new passages of understanding!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Escalation: We Have a Choice

"Do I or don't I?"  That is the question!  How often do we face a fork in the road:
  • Do I say what is really on my mind?
  • How honest should I be in this situation?
  • Will this relationship withstand the differences between what I see, believe, and do?
These decision-moments are evident throughout the day -- played out in our individual lives and in the public arena within communities, between elected representatives, and among world leaders.

Escalation:  what are your triggers?
* * Click on comic to enlarge * *
(Photo credit:  Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis, 01/23/19)

Do I or don't I?  Maybe that is not the primary question.  Maybe there are other questions to consider... questions that surface our intentions:
  • What causes me to escalate a dilemma?
  • Why do I want to respect only my values but not honor your values or our differences?
  • Do I want to stay in relationship?  Why or why not? 

It seems that we may need to see clearly the dark clouds of our human nature:  those potholes we try to navigate around; those irritants that trigger us.

But, I must confess:  there are times I want to pull those triggers.  I wait for the moment when I can be "honest" and tell someone off!  How about you:  do you enjoy it when you are triggered?

Escalation:  do you see dark clouds ahead
in your relationships?
Dialogue provides opportunities where we can become curious about another person:  I wonder why she said that?  I wonder what he is feeling?  I wonder what experiences they have learned different than mine?  Practicing curiosity -- by asking questions -- helps us to  encounter two characteristics that will dispel the dark clouds: vulnerability and courage.  Realizing that I don't have all of the answers opens me to being vulnerableIt takes courage to seek answers to our questions.

Becoming curious, vulnerable, and courageous creates a reflective moment which invites us into a choice:
  • Do I escalate the misunderstandings and walls that have built up between us? -- or --
  • Do I listen with an open mind to the personal revelations that are opening between us?

Escalation: we have a choice!

We have a choice:  to see the dark storms on the horizon or to be transformed so that we see light and understanding.  And, we have a choice when we allow the other person their choice as well.  Yes, I can be honest about the values important to me.  But, I can also honor, respect, and now understand the differences that bring us both closer together.

Do I or don't I?  The choice is about pulling the trigger or becoming curious about other ways to see the world.

May this week provide moments when we notice our triggers, our intentions, our questions, and the vulnerability and courage to choose to understand.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)