Interrupting in CA indicates sympathy

There are many variations in mini-cultures for a different sense of "right" timing. Some people think it is rude to butt in to contribute, while others interrupt without hesitation. To correct for this in an ongoing way, (which doesn't have to be done in email dialogue!,) some dialoguers have learned to talk about this phenomena as a preface to the in-person dialogue. The people who talk easily and tend to dominate the air space have learned to invite the people to talk who have a more difficult time just jumping into the conversation on their own. More aggressive talkers can part the way or recognize people who have not spoken yet at any particular time - especially when the speed of the dialogue increases. The talkers get the reward of hearing from the people who feel shy and usually remain silent.

In our Holographic dialogue group, we have also learned to directly invite the people who have trouble jumping in and talking to raise their hand to indicate that they want this help from the "talkers".

As far as how well it works, it's OK, could be improved, but for now, it is the only thing that we've stumbled on that works at all as the conversation is moving to address this inequality of group dialogue. This issue doesn't exist so often in email listservers, nobody can interrupt anyone!

I'm so giddy about this...!

I think this whole idea is really cool. But does anyone read these blogs? I guess I have to tell other people about it. I think that I'll wait until I have some more postings so they'll have some content to see when they come.

So - thanks for coming around to check out what sort of thing I'm thinking about!

Worldwide Dialoguers...

...do it on-line. In addition to being a Dialoguer in person in San Rafael, CA, I'm part of an email dialogue list server. Here, a fellow dialoguer talks about her first experiences signing up for being a part of that list:


[I'd like] to give is a little about my own experience with this list. When I first joined ... I felt a
little overwhelmed by the whole thing and didn't know where or how to start. I finally realized it was up to me to do that. No one else could start but me. Then, once I "jumped in" I had the desire to see if there was any way to create a particular kind of flow or direction within the dialogue. The problem with that is that there are lots of different people who like lots of different kinds of flows and directions.

I finally realized that's the beauty of an email list. I can decide on my own flow and direction without the need to censor or direct anyone else's flow and direction. Everyone can sort of "talk at the same time" and I can still sort through the posts and create my own little flow of which ones I want to read and respond to, or if I'm not happy with what I find I can start my own threads and post what ever I feel like. And, yes, when I'm in a hurry that means that I won't have time to read everyone's posts.
In the beginning that can be a little frustrating because you don't know us yet and who is likely to have a conversation going that you might find of interest. It also means that no matter what, sometimes you may miss a really good post or conversation.

But my experience has been that it's worth it. I have gotten to know who usually has something to say at I will be attracted to in the moment so that if I am in a hurry and don't have much time I go directly to
their posts. Later on if I find time I will go back and read other posts from other people. And of course, there have been people that I simply didn't feel attracted to at all and learned that I could usually just skip their posts all together.

Having multiple threads with lots of different conversations and ideas being tossed around and explored has been great. I can pick and choose among them to fit my own moods and wants at the time. And never feel that I am missing out on anything. At the same time, we all have complete freedom to do as we please in our own time and our own way. - S

Why do I Dialogue?

The best definition of the experience of David Bohm style of Dialogue comes from Pat Styer, a fellow dialoguer:
The dialogue process is ...about finding the blocks to awareness of what is actually occurring in thought, in how thought thinks about its own operation. To do this we have to have a way to 'look at thought' and our way to look at thought is to bump up against each other in a dialogue setting.

People most often do not realize this, and so when the bumping up against each other begins to happen in the dialogue setting, people leave because of the discomfort, with such discomfort being attributed and dispersed into anything but the unexamined thought process itself, and such discomfort is often disguised as something other than discomfort. So it is a long term process of finding enough people to actually "stay with it."

I've had lots of interesting thoughts while writing for an online dialogue group (see links) that I thought would be really cool for other people to read. So, I'm posting them here if anyone wants to see them.

Sapir_Whorf and Dialogue

Dialogue encourages the identification and even emulation of alternate ways of thinking and making sense and meaning of experience. I found the Sapir-Whorf theory when I was in college, and based an independent-study communication class on it. Instead of a term paper, I created this enormous time-line of all the ideas in a sort of an associative graph of the process I followed to document how I spent my time during this class.

The reason I created the class is that I had a devil of a time understanding Whorf's book, where he tried to articulate the cultural conceptual differences between a number of N. American indigenous languages in quick succession. I could read the words which were easy enough to understand, but I just did not compute what he was talking about! I figured that it was because of my cultural bias, so I went out on a sort of "quest" to learn how to get beyond my mono-cultural orientation. I realized that part of it had to do with uncovering assumptions. So I sought out that activity - even demanded it. I figured sooner or later I'd reach a critical mass where my own capacity to understand alternate ways of thinking would become more flexible. I made a point of learning to emulate other people's ways of thinking that were unique to their circumstances - even to the point of befriending "crackpots" that nobody else would put up with.

Meanwhile, I was studying the Hopi language by reading about it. Since there was a great deal of information from other people who had studied the Hopi and their language, at least I could get the experiences second hand. I also studied with John Lilly, (inter-species communicator,) and got to attend a workshop by him and even got to be in his isolation tank. I eventually stumbled onto "Don't Shoot the Dog," which is a book on the art of communicating non-verbally by the use of reinforcement in training, [animals] by Pryor. With enough practice at stretching my mind around ways of thinking that were unfamiliar and didn't involve the language I knew, I could finally abstract and explain to others the concepts in Whorf's book, Language, Thought & Reality. I probably should have just gotten further into linguistics.
I guess I could do more of that in my next post...

Timing, Direction, Sequence & Quality

First I have to admit that I was an artist first before I was trained in other fields. So "seeing" as an artist came naturally to me. I never "grew up" away from a magical place that I could endlessly recombine ever-more fractal parts that were alternately defined by changing observations.

I've always had the ability to observe. At 16, I was invited into a inventor's problem solving 'club' after I untangled a fisherman's line at Sunset Cliffs in the dark. I carefully observed and then pulled one thread and having the whole mess come apart. My function in that inventor's group was they used me to figure out how to present and explain what they were inventing by answering some of my questions.

From that experience, and others, I realized that articulating properties and describing qualities is the stuff that you want to do when you're problem solving. Too often our assumptions are clumped up into concepts or conclusions that we don't remember ever deciding on. It can be tricky to extract the original observations that led to the assumptions, especially if they were accepted from someone else's conclusion in the distant past. It's tricky to be so caught up in the sequences you followed that you can't abstract or simplify them. Or you can't go in the other direction to analyse and break apart to discover or describe the crucial factors and say what they mean for other people.

Of course, the more flexible you are at discovering what you are leaving out, the more you don't need those other people who are good at other strategies to fill in where you are weak by using your innate assumptions. However, a group of people are invaluable for this reason, because there seems to be always something valuable that you didn't think of yourself. That's also why I love dialogue.

Suspension functions as a precursor to analysis for me and that's why it's so often valuable. Suspension is a sort of subtraction process where I wipe the slate of my mind clean and act "As If" I'm starting over, without some level of my conclusions about results. I imagine suspension as sort of an onion, where I can undo ever more complex levels of assumptions as far down as I want to go. Often it's not useful to start all the way back at square one - I usually need some level of functional assumption to be practical.

Sometimes I use a stepping stone to generate results in problem solving - some sort of way to break up my preconceptions and loosen up my attachment to gaining results - and then put the results together. For instance I find that reversing sequences is strange enough to get me to think about something differently enough. Essentially to mix up my thinking, I often would experiment with what I consider to be direction, qualities, sequences, timing of whatever I was dealing with.

In service of teaching Alexander Technique, I've made up those four categories that are useful for describing observations and I'm often struck with how they can be broadly applied as I so often do.

In AT we're dealing with observing motion - and as the teacher I would try and get someone to use them in a sentence as they described their own motion. (They can be used in any order)

* Qualities, (after describing them, what sort of value of quality do we prefer to apply and why prefer it? This is a sort of making of a hypothesis or question that helps us to have something to pay attention to when it changes.)
* Direction, (once we describe where we are, where do we want to go or what to do? Essentially, this helps to describe purposes or relative location.)

* Sequence, (how does priorty-making influence relative value, and how can grouping concepts influence results? This involves suspending expected results and crafting how the act of reasoning, constructing or adding or subtracting influences results.)

* Timing (after we've experimented some, spotting crucial factors that are valuable to pay attention to one after the other. These are our functionally bright ideas and when exactly to use them.)

Anyway, I love creative thinking and articulating how it can work easier. I imagine that the world could also benefit from some articulation of plain old functional thinking also.

I guess it has to be me - for now.

After thinking about it, I guess I'll just include my own writing here. I'd like to include other people's comments from the dialogue list. For this, I'll need their permission and see what they think; perhaps if the comments are anonymous? We'll see how that goes.

The ability to redirect motion is a principle that can be applied using an ever-increasing subtle ability. This is limited only by your ability to learn to perceive "the differences that make a difference "- to quote Bateson. I studied Aikido in the early seventies for quite a few years - both on and off the mat, merely watching. Being able to see efficiency in movement via Aikido, something I thought was beautiful, led me to Alexander Technique.

A sensation of an action "happening as if by itself" is a common experience in Alexander Technique, what I hear reported when I'm teaching. It happens most often when someone finds themselves doing something outside of their capacity to recognize what sensory data is supposed to matter during the calibration of perception - of movement and eventually, thought. It is, in fact, controllable by conscious will. But this takes training and sometimes quite a bit of training. It involves kinesthetic sensory de-education of the multiple layers of movement habits.

Most people have evolved many habits designed for automatic response to stimuli. Habits - really synonymous with acquiring skill. However sometimes other unwanted stuff also fires off in sophisticated sequences to follow a person's intention to respond to address a certain familiar goal. If these habitual building blocks of skill are something that the person is familiar with and it is only a matter of recombining these previous routines, firing off the trigger of intention will be successful. If not, well, it's difficult to get new results while doing the old same thing, no matter how much harder you try doing things in the old ways. In this unsuccessful situation, you may have an intention, but then you must educate yourself how to do the new building blocks that make up the successes. As you do this, you must also learn to be able to discern what is progress and what is not, applied at a constructive sequence in the learning process. Unfortunately, when people repeat a habit, their senses sort of fall asleep; they lose their natural sensitivity to sense subtle differences that could teach them new skills.

I call this the drawback of adapting. The habits of adapting are designed to run as second nature in the background. Repeating these habits dull our natural capacity to sense differences, and most people have no idea how to update these outdated routines that limit their progress. The ability to discern the timing of when it is possible to control this novel experience "happening by itself" has been dulled by your habitual movements and kinesthetic assumptions. People who do better with these new things that are "happening by themselves" are people who put curiosity ahead of most other motivations.

Most people have created multiple habits to answer their responses. People can erroneously assume that movement completion and the gradual possession of skill will somehow follow their intention, despite not really being aware of exactly how they might or might not go about doing it to their own satisfaction. This is why most people look for a teacher.

I like to use a juggling stick toy to illustrate these principles in action - rather than try to teach a multitude of skill-specific abilities. The toy consists of two rubber covered handsticks that you can twirl a third sticky-covered wand in the air. The advantage to my teaching is that this is a skill that most people have never learned to do. So I can use these "Stix" as a teaching tool to show someone how to constructively learn to build skills from scratch. As someone learns the capacity to observe the timing of  when it is possible to give a slight indication of their will to keep the wand in the air, they have more success with continuing to make contact with the stick to prevent it from falling. However, because of the unpredictable nature of the toy, it is never possible to completely control they toy- in fact, that is its charm. This juggling toy picks up the qualities of your movements and feeds those qualities back to you. The most common paradox is that most people have coupled "quick"  or "fast" movement capacity with "forceful" motion. For this skill of juggling,  these two qualities must be separated, and the force must be mostly  left out of the quality of your movements. Sort of a paradox from the way you assume should be necessary.


Would I necessarily recognize a larger change or fulfilment taking place moment-by-moment?

I'm interested in why this happens. I think that human moment-to-moment ability to recognize change isn't very precise. Human sensory ability only feels differences that are significant - and notable as determined by the person experiencing it.

Significance that is gradual, (change that happens over time) doesn't seem to register very well on the sensory system. Meaning or specialness seems to be determined by the relative sensitivity of the person experiencing it and how "jaded" they have become to sensory information.

Perhaps jadedness and unreliability depends on how many habits someone has trained themselves to deal with what is being sensed. Opposing directives seem to flood or shut down the system. Of course, the more habitual and automatic the programs in place, the less new sensory information is actually available to be sensed. That must be how the dulling process happens; if frogs notice only that it's just getting a little bit hotter in the pot - why should humans be much different?

Implied Opposite Peeve

I'm going to try to use language to give you another idea about how to use language. I'm going to make it simple, because this can get very complex pretty fast. It's a tricky paradox, but you can tell me how I do.

I know it's possible to learn to not use dualistic - either/or type comparisons in the way that we talk when we give our explanations. There are many reasons to do this. One of the best is positivity. How come positive, happy experiences are regarded by most people in this culture as being so... banal? Why is negativity sensationalized? Of course, drama makes excitement.

What is deceptive here about experiencing virtual drama is that you get used to desensitizing your negative sensations. Your sensitivity in general eventually gets dulled, unless you know how to sharpen it. Then it's easy to forget that happy experiences are subtle and take some time to like something and enjoy doing it. You begin to assume that what will make you happy has the same intensity level as the excitements of (virtual) negativity. The danger is you might not recognize the subtle beginnings of potential happiness.

Opposites are a concept of our culture. The idea that if you feel something intense, it's opposite is a direct match; this is a seriously self-deceptive illusion. This has seeped into the way people talk. You don't need to use implied opposites used to illustrate your point, but many people use them exclusive examples.

There's more reasons that this use of language is a problem. It encourages misunderstanding almost as bad a using a cliche to talk about something. It also has the effect of creating positional arguments when there are none. This comparison of opposing characteristics is a very common activity that contributes to misunderstanding and positional arguing. Using opposites is an expression of a temporarily divided examples, and expression of an artificially divided self.

We do it everywhere, it's very common. We have to work really hard to NOT do it. (See, I did it there. I could have said it takes a great deal of effort to both interrupt your own habit of stating something in the negative AND in the next moment come up with another creative response.) But the worst trouble with statements that claim their value by using an implied opposite is that everybody has assigned a different opposite to the one you imply. You don't communicate unless you can read each other's mind.

Many times, when looking for an instance, people go to the extreme to illustrate their point. That attraction to the extreme seems artificial. Life isn't often that neat and obvious. It turns out that generalizations can be very slimy communication tools.

It's a bit like a parent giving a toddler two things to choose from; the intent is to give the poor kid the idea that they have the ability to make their own decisions. The "twick" is (as my four year old friend Adam says) to be able to think of another choice that has another set of choices that answers both their choice and what you want. Pretty good for a kid, huh?

This idea plays into a great many other possible deceptions. ...advertising, sales, consciousness seeking...etc. To me it's important because it's a basic negociation skill in bargaining who gets whose way and how long they have to wait for it.

Comparison doesn't have to go on in this black & white way. For instance, a new use of language becoming common right now might be springing from the urge to build models with language. We can now say something is LIKE, you know, like! something else. Uttering the word "like" may be evolving into making the word "like" stand for the act of comparison as a trigger word, rather than doing the comparative metaphorical activity.

This has escalated to a style of expressionistic talking, such as, "...and I said, like, who would know that, like, he did it?..." Possibly meaning: "I said, like, (as if someone else were saying it,) who would know (for instance) he did it?" Possibly, the idea of using "like" here, is to try out a comment on other people before claiming authorship. Some people would be upset at any catch-all linguistic
expression, (you know,) but at least this one is slightly more sophisticated in that it attempts to correct for having to over-express an idea in order to say it at all. Used by someone who engages their imaginative capacity instead of using the word "like" to stand for everything, it's a way of building a metaphor and comparing it without the implied arrogance of authorship. The message is implied, not defined, not offered as Truth; it's a "take it or leave it" offering.

...Which is why I brought it up. I think it's a cultural correction for this dualism problem that has evolved to answer a need. As far as using opposites go - I find articulating and describing the assumptions of a certain measuring stick criteria - as compared to choosing one or another end of it - ever so much more useful.

Describing characteristics is the first activity. Articulating leads me to uncover the words or concepts I may be using that "stand for" others. Then I know the building blocks - and I know what I'm building with. Now I have some idea of my assumptions, which is handy.

Now I'm looking for the motive of why communicate - in what others are saying as well as in myself when I talk. Motives are usually an implied assumption, so I enjoy explaining what I imagine to be my own motive behind what I'm after. I find that doing the revealing motive thing helps people with the virtual question of "why is she saying THAT?" This comes up because I can assume so many different points of view - this confuses people. They think I'm making a declaration of intent, when for instance, I'm exploring to add something I believe may suffer from it's omission.

I'm talented at memorising AND spontaneously bringing up what's needed - one of these skills do not exclude the other - but our culture teaches exclusion. You can't be both a sensory, feeling person or a thinker; if someone is sensitive, they must also have a hair trigger bruised ego, etc.

So after the describing process and the exploring of assumptions (motive being among them) - I try to match the process - the how - with the motive - the why. I go through this process because I want participation from others. Explaining assumptions seems to work to inspire tolerance also. If someone else has another motive, they can feel free to use what follows that I'm proposing for their own ends. They don't have to agree with my motive in order to gain a benefit from my strategy. Instead of having to convince people of a premise - I present my methods as a tool that may be suitable for their applications. This is also a way to get help from others in improving a how-to technique. Another, more suitable procedure may exist to play out their different motives from mine - once they know my motive - the listener can suggest a more suitable way of going about it.

Example: When I have an experience that I can't explain or I want to learn something, I go looking for others who may have a wider field of reference to give me a wider perspective on how to add to what I've experienced. I ask; not for their conclusions, but for the account of the experiences that made up their conclusions. I figure how someone "comes to a conclusion" is what makes us all different, so I don't like someone delivering their conclusions to me as well as I enjoy someone articulating their thinking process along with their conclusions. People come to similar conclusions - but how they go about it says more to me than their result. This is based on the idea that how you ask questions will lead you to certain answers. If you aren't getting where you want, change the questioning process. Different assumptions result in different questions... implying suitably different answers.

I could go on and on - but do you get the ideas...?

Faux Pas Transformation

I had unpredictable urges to blurt out aptly shocking remarks, before I realized their socially devastating effects. I didn't know why I did it. I reasoned that my outbursts must have some understandable origin, but the automatic quality of my retorts erased any feeling of what the true emotion was.

Censoring myself was the obvious solution, but the harder I tried not to offend, the more often I inserted foot in my mouth. So much for repression, when I couldn't know why I was having the problem.

As I began describing characteristics, I began to regard the habit as funny instead of tragic. I broke the ice in groups as the sacrificial fool, people remembered me, and blatant honesty weeded out potential enemies. Aside from making the best of my slip-ups after the fact, I realized I would find out more if I could know how I felt, right before I did it. Then maybe I could choose a different way to deal with the feeling.


How could I become aware of saying something that only happened when I was not paying attention? I pinpointed the repeated situations where my retorts were most likely to pop out. As I could resist criticizing myself, I did manage to detect it happening sooner and closer to when I was about to do it. I could have been satisfied with my new ability to turn my troublesome little snips into jokes or stutters, but the challenge became an interesting game.

One day I caught myself before I slipped up and "did it again." I was stunned. Here, inside my ribcage, was the feeling of a giant gap I had to slump to protect, along with the hidden emotions! I was afraid I was being prejudged and unfairly excluded by people who were important to me because I had no contributions to a talk going on without me. Being the baby of a family where my siblings were about ten years older explained my reactions, so at least I felt justified, though a tad out of date.


Now, even though I knew why, I still wanted to say something, anything. Doing that had been my only remedy. I still felt trapped in a catch-22 habit at this impasse. Then it dawned on me that I knew from Alexander's work how to physically move out of my collapse, using what I knew would improve my flexibility. Start from where you are. Move head first slightly away from my habit and follow the initiation of motion with my whole self.

I knew I'd really done as I'd intended because I could suddenly breathe easier. It took a number of attempts, and then, I saw something in my situation in front of me - I saw the trigger - no wonder I had been over-reacting! I saw the conversation going so fast at the table that I couldn't talk fast enough to compete. If it was a game of bad manners, my outrageous outbursts won every time. But it was out of place for me to bring out my club when everyone else was politely fencing at the table with their intellectual jabs.

With my new perspective, I re-framed my motive to want to participate in an interesting conversation, instead of to want to stop them from talking. I ventured a different approach. I made short comments whenever I could. And then, as I could make a three word sentence, I spoke with longer pauses, slowing my own breathing. By the time I got to say a six-word sentence, there was a conversation going at the dinner table instead of a competitive race. I was pleased that it all Changed so gracefully.

The strange part about all of this was - I was changed. The awkwardness I used to have about perhaps unconsciously blurting out socially unacceptable remarks designed to shock never happened to me again.

I learned that I couldn't attribute to malice what I could forgive as plain old lack of awareness. I found that what had once been a nuisance had now turned to my advantage. I now have an uncanny ability to say something complimentary, in a way that is too specific to brush aside. I got over a fear of saying the wrong thing. This leaves me skilled enough to mention potentially insulting remarks so tactfully, that now not only am I forgiven, but actually warmly received. Now one way I identify a trusted friend is how candid someone dares be with me. How willing is a friend to question their own emotional assumptions in a personally threatening situation is an indicator of how close we are.