Conversational Paradigm LO5640

David C. Walden (
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 06:15:51 -0600

Replying to LO5597 --

In Richard Karash's note on R. Reichard's response to Michael McMaster,
he wrote:
>On the more direct point, I'm very curious about how the language/action
>models are useful. They make sense to me looking backwards at
>conversations, and it does make sense to me to be clear about what is a
>request and to be clear in saying "OK, I'm satisfied with that" but in my
>limited attempts to apply them, they have always felt too rigid, too
>constraining, too inhibiting.

I assume we are discussing trying to use the langauge/action models orally
(without computer tools) and as a mental model to help us avoid forgetting
useful conversational steps rather than as an explicit checklist that we
are compelled to go through step-by-step. If so, I suspect the methods
may feel too rigid, constraining and inhibiting because when we start
using them they are unfamiliar and awkward to use. In time and with
familiarity it will come to feel natural and unconstraining (perhaps even
liberating). One of the lessons I get from from Argyris's work is that
each of us already has mental models (perhaps unconscious) for what is
"acceptable" in conversation and this already constrains and inhibits us.
Unfortunately, these sometimes constrain us in ways that even we would
agree are incompatible with our long term self-interest. Part of the
point of the Flores language/action model as I see it is to provide
alternative conversational models that with practice we will learn to use
transparently that will avoid some of the existing constraints and
inhibitions and validate efforts to get to and resolve undiscussed or
undiscussably issues that are getting in the way. Key to the
language/action perspective, as I see it, is an effort to coverse in ways
that build and then maintain mutual trust.

Dave Walden, 280 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02116
At home: phone and fax=617-437-7139,
At CQM: phone=617-873-8971, fax=617-873-8980,

"David C. Walden" <>

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