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Welcome to the 7th post in our Journey in Dialog. In the Introduction Post 01, I listed some of the reasons for dialog. Using Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis, we might call those reasons the driving forces in support of dialog. However, there are also restraining forces to dialog. Therefore, in order to practice transformational dialog, we must identify and deal with not only driving, but also restraining forces.

Not everyone is interested in dialog, especially transformational dialog. Some reasons for this lack of interest are the following:

  • “Why consider a different way to communicate? My current way of communicating is just fine, thank you.
  • If I or we got really open, we might upset folks.
  • And, heaven forbid, if I really leveled with someone one-on-one or in a group, there is a good chance that what I disclosed would find its way to the wrong places.
  • And, with busy schedules, there is just not enough time for this kind of dialog.”

 

It may be true that much of our educational experience consists of more attention being placed on monolog than dialog. In fact, some educators worry that the often well-worn and biased lectures delivered in schools don’t equip the next generations for practices needed to improve the future. Too much education, argues one educator, involves pedagogic “banking” in which teachers make deposits in their students without helping them to learn how to use their own knowledge. In contrast, dialog requires more effort on the part of teachers and could potentially expose their vulnerabilities.

Confirmation bias is the human tendency to seek, interpret, and remember information that confirms our own beliefs. It affects every choice we make including the things we choose to buy, whom we choose to marry, what our careers will be, and more. Confirmation bias also affects our openness to dialog.

Even our memory can get warped. In fact, research finds that we can change memories and facts in our heads based on our bias. It’s easy to accept opposing views when we don’t care about something. However, if we really care about something like which candidate for President we plan to vote for, any evidence that runs counter to our point of view will call up what is called cognitive dissonance and that dissonance becomes stressful.

Our brains react if there are threats to what we have taught it because it automatically wants to protect us from anything perceived to be a threat. When the culture in which we live, our educational conditioning, and even our brains seem to be restraining forces to transformational dialog, what chance does this kind of dialog have to become a preferred way to communicate?

If you Google Force Field Analysis, you will find that Lewin concluded that conflicting driving and restraining forces result in a quasi-stationary equilibrium that could only be modified by increasing the driving forces and/or reducing the restraining forces.

Questions: What are ways to reduce the restraining forces listed above? Is it worth your while to practice some of those ways?

Post 08 will focus on the powerful restraining force known as the us/them syndrome.

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