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8th August 2006 | Uncompleted

Guidelines for Sustainable Dialogue


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What might it take to sustain the energy, significance and transformational processes of a group conversation. The following possible guidelines envisage a group in which each participant can respond in a variety of modes -- ine some of which they may be especially adept. The consequence is that each corrects limitations imposed by other modes in order to enhanced the transformative dynamics of the dialogue.

One caqn move all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but it is not possible to fool all the people all the time.

One can avoid all the guidelines some of the time and some of the guidelines all the time, but it is not possible to avoid all the guidelines all the time.

keep ball/point moving

catastrophic curling


Guideline #1: Humour: Used by the participant to express unexpected dimensions and connections, inhibiting any tendency to pontofication and entrapment in patterns.

Counter-indications: Inappropriate timing inhibiting the completion of other significant processes especially as a trivial distraction.

Guideline #2: Self-deprecation: Used by the participant to undermine any peception of pomposity, occupationb of the moral high ground, or claims to special insight.

Counter-indications: Possibility of being interpreted as false modesty, especially when the participant's insight is valued.

Guideline #3: Reframing: Use by the participant, with the aid of other modes, to offer an alternatrive perspective on the dialogue, especially to render it more integrative, more encompassing, or more focused.

Counter-indications: Where such reframing may be perceived as one-upmanship or an effort to create a context that unnecessarily devalues thecurrent one and demeans its proponenents.

Guideline #4: Counterpoint: Used by the participant to provide a blancing contrary perspective to one that is dominating the discussion and precluding recognition of a diversity of views.

Counter-indications: Where a counterpoint may be perceived primarily as aggressive or negative, persponal positioning, and thereby blocking further dialogue, notably when failing to offer a way forward.

Guideline #5: Aesthetic: Used by a participant, possibly with visuiql or other aids, to configure the dialogue and the participants into a pattern of contrasting themes and proponenents, thus providing a sense of context for some elements being emphasized at the expense of others.

Counter-indications: Where the aesthetic emphasios may be perceived as deliberately used as a means of devqaluing individual themes and relativizing them within a larger context -- to the point of trivializing them as details

Guideline #6: Timeliness: Used by a participant tpo emphasize a sense of immediatre urgency in relation to a context of timelessness -- and the appropriateness of timing. Urgency in the sense of the call to respond to the challenge and potential of the present moment and timelessness in the sense of the sweep of history with there always being another day.

Counter-indications: Where introducing either extreme may be perceived as a manipulative device to focibly modify the natural pace and flow of the dialogue.

Guideline #7: Momentousness: Used by a participant to focus on the potential significance of this particular dialogue at this moment in time, whether for the participants or for those who may be affected by its outcome.

Counter-indications: Where this may be mistakenly perceived as attraching greater importance to the gathering than is warranted, or than is healthy for the participants, especially where this distracts from processes that might actually engender greater significance

Guideline #8: Poignancy: Used by a participant to enhance the affective sense of the role of the gathering, constraqined as it is by time and circumstances, echoing painful and chaqllenging preoccupations of other places and times

Counter-indications: Where this may be perceived as a device used purely for effect with little potential for increasing the depeth and richness of the dialogue -- or enhancing its tone. *** Pathyos?

Guideline #9: Incompletion: Used by a participant to inhibit premature closure and to maintain a sense of openness to insight yet to be engendered or recognized for their signifiance.

Counter-indications: Where closure on a theme may be felt to be necessary to enable the dialogue to move on -- and where openness may create vulnerability to unfrutiful distraction.

Guideline #10: Honour: Used by a participant to give credit where credit is due and to express respect for that which has contributed to present understanding and opportuntity

Counter-indications: Where this may be perceived as focusing on the past and its exemplars as a means of avoiding the chqallenges of of the fguture and those who may engender it.

Guideline #11: Care: Used by a participant to respond to those who are unfruitfully marginalized by the dialogue process, especially where this is a result of deliberate or inadvertent neglect that may be perceived as woundi9ng. Notably used as a means of introduci9ng the negelected perspective as fruitful variety or a vaqluable triangulation between other opposing views.

Counter-indications: Where this response is deliberately evoked in the cultivaton of victimhood and an unwillingness to rise to the challenges and learnings of interaction.

Guideline #12: Withholding: Used by a participant where more may bed achieved by allowing the dialogue to flow rather by intervening in any particular way.

Counter-indications: Where this is done for effect or where this is effectively a means of avoiding being placed at a disadvantage from which the dialogue as a whole might otherwise benefit.

Guideline #13: Shock: Used by a participant to provoke the emergence of an alternative perspective on a pattern of dialogue whose energy is declinging or dissipating.

Counter-indications: Where tis may be pereceived as undertaken primarily for effect and without any real sense of viable alternatives.

Guideline #14: Indication:

Guideline #15: Insignificance:

Guideline #16: ***:


Guidelines as a set of complementaries

Self-referential dynamic of self-identity

dynamic goal

12 animals each with a way of transforming a communication

sustaining pattern of tgensions

Arthur Young

sunset clause


variety / focus -- nourishment -- opening and closing

internal diaqlogue

test for external dialogue

what modes is itr useful to shift between



Bakhrian: Dialogical Imagination

Anthony Judge:

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