Our worldview – our attitudes, beliefs and ways of thinking – can move us towards Dialogue (wholeness) or away from it (fragmentation).
Dialogue involves genuine curiosity and discovery. It is a space to explore, examine, create and learn — revealing information, assumptions and uncertainty. It is a process of inquiry where there is room to seek new understanding – and learn from others — because diversity is valued and each participant respected.
Worldviews are appreciated – not attacked. Blame does not exist. Differing viewpoints are acknowledged — balanced with the courage to share your insights and speak your voice — all in an effort to advance the Dialogue group towards deeper, newer understanding.
To gain deeper, newer understanding necessitates that you suspend judgment – deferring certainty while exploring doubt so that new possibilities can arise. It requires you to observe your reactions to what others are saying and to pay attention to the opinions that are forming in your mind. What are these reactions and opinions telling you about yourself?
Suspending judgment involves taking pause – taking a step back to ponder and reflect – adopting a new point of view – considering things from that new perspective, acknowledging what you don’t know or understand, disclosing your own fears. In this, you become more aware of your internal reactions to things. What emotions are arising? Am I forming a response in my head while the speaker is speaking, minimizing or trivializing an issue the speaker is sharing? Am I jumping to conclusions?
Listening is foundational to Dialogue because it frees the mind in new ways. Suspending judgment has a direct link to listening. You cannot listen in a way to fully understand if you are tightly holding on to your own point of view. To suspend your beliefs requires discipline: Discipline to hold the tension within yourself while silently examining and reflecting on it — discipline to remain curious and inquisitive — discipline to cope with your fears and doubts in a way that is useful and beneficial to yourself and others.
Johan Galtung, Norwegian sociologist, mathematician and the principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies, said: “There is something valid in every position.” In Dialogue this holds true.
Seeking new understanding requires the practice and ability to combine the skills of listening while suspending judgment: Listening to others’ points of view while internally listening to yourself — listening without resistance while observing your own struggle.
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