There is a volume of information about carrying on meaningful conversations, especially about change. In the last posting I mentioned Grice’s Maxims which specify 4 qualities of conversation (from:
- The maxim of quantity, where one tries to be as informative as one possibly can, and gives as much information as is needed, and no more.
- The maxim of quality, where one tries to be truthful, and does not give information that is false or that is not supported by evidence.
- The maxim of relation, where one tries to be relevant, and says things that are pertinent to the discussion.
- The maxim of manner, when one tries to be as clear, as brief, and as orderly as one can in what one says, and where one avoids obscurity and ambiguity
This appears to be fairly straightforward but, in my experience, not a simple task.
Looking at the work of Robinson, I think we get a more realistic orientation to the challenges of conversations that are open to learning, conversations in making changes.
Here is a quote from the author (Viviane M. J. Robinson) University of Auckland cautioning us that “Open to learning” conversations are not easy, even when an administrator is talking with a teacher:
“The Key Components of an Open-to-learning Conversation. There are no rules or step-by-step guides to open-to-learning conversations. This is because the shifts from less open to more open-to-learning conversations are as much about changes in values and ways of thinking as they are about changes in communication skills. Hard and fast rules also do not work because good conversations are responsive to context and to the other person. Despite this, it is possible to identify some of the recurring components of open-to-learning conversations. Table 3 identifies some of these components and shows how a leader might use them in conversations about the quality of teaching.”….
Nevertheless, she lists 7 components (starting points?):
- Describe your concern as your point of view. I need to tell you about a possible concern I have about.. I think we may have different views… I realise this may not be how you see it….
- Describe what your concern is based on. The reason why I was concerned is..
- Invite the other’s point of view. Pause and look at the other person or say.. What do you think?
- Paraphrase their point of view and check. I got three important messages from that…Am I on the right track?
- Detect and check important assumptions… What leads you to believe that the children…
- Establish common ground. The common ground might be based…
- Make a plan to get what you both want. How would you like to learn more about….
There are several YouTube videos that provide examples. For example: