If you’re like many who grew up in American households, you probably heard this suggestion quite often from your parents: “Think before you speak.”
As children, our parents and caregivers do their best to teach us how to treat others kindly and with respect. Thinking before speaking was a lesson taught to us as children to remind us that if we pause for just a moment before we say what wants to “automatically” come out of our mouths, we can make a conscious choice about what we say and thereby how we interact with others.
Generative Dialogue is very much the same thing, a great teacher reminding you to think before you speak – and in this to be mindful of not just what you say — but how you’re saying it. Whether you’re interrupting another speaker in an attempt to be “first” or “right”; and more deeply, whether you’re reciting sentences in your head before the words even reach your mouth. Interruption, being “right”, being “first” or thinking you “know it all” therefore feeling a need to immediately educate your colleagues with your words of wisdom begin in the mind – well before the sound ever hits your vocal chords. And while your brain certainly plays a role in Dialogue, it’s the heart that is at its foundation.
As a facilitator of Generative Dialogue, we teach group participants to pause and ask three questions prior to speaking:
- Have I heard what’s been said? (Am I listening to fully understand?)
- Is it truly my turn to speak? (Am I paying attention to the Flow?)
- Is what I am going to say in service to the group? (Is my heart engaged?)
These three questions act as a reminder to us to be attentive when engaged in Dialogue. Yet I believe that it would be hugely beneficial to consider these questions in any human interaction — as a mindfulness practice and a way to listen to what resides in our hearts. To pay attention to what is happening inside, providing an opportunity to consciously choose our words — interrelating with one another as often as possible in a way that is respectful and in service.
Artwork by Rebecca Abeckin, Abeccas Art & Spirit
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