Spirited Debate on LO LO6683

Richard Karash (rkarash@karash.com)
Sun, 14 Apr 1996 13:47:34 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO6607 --

Fran brings up a good point here, "maybe this is a boy/girl thing"

Deborah Tannen's book about male/female mis-communication (_You Just Don't
Understand_, a recent best-seller) was very illuminating to me. She points
out very different objectives, content, and styles for men vs. women that
can make communication literally unintelligible to the opposite sex. I saw
myself, at times, in her examples.

But, I'd like to expand this... I believe it's not just male/female, but a
wider array of personal communication styles. Another eye-opener for me
was this notion: that every individual has a personal communication style
in which they are most comfortable. Some people are aggressive, some talk
rapidly, some leave pauses between sentences, some ask questions, some
don't. There are many dimensions of contrast here.

The punch line is that most people are able to communicate *only* in their
prefered style and that communication between peole using mixed styles is
ineffective. Therefore, one can become more effective in the world by
learning to vary personal style to match the other party.

A French friend got this insight in a training program. I've been using it
for 15 years and I believe it to be an important tool for personal
effectiveness. I'm conscious of adjusting my pace, insertiveness, use of
pauses, use of questions, etc. to match the other person. Of these, I find
pace of speech to be the single most important. Why? I don't know.

This may well be related to "type" in the sense of Meyers-Briggs and
Kiersey. I also like the Human Dynamics approach (Sandra Seagul and David
Horne); Sandra tells me that she can "read" a person's Human Dynamics type
very quickly by listening to them talk and pace is one of her cues.

OK, what does this have to do with Spirited Debate and the LO list?

Sprited Debate: I think there's a big danger that the conversation style
which Hal appears to endorse is one that isolates one group (who works
well in that style) and shuts out others who are not as comfortable in
that mode. In my consulting work, it's clear that it's not just women who
are feeling this. If we *really* were a learning organization, we'd take
advantage of everyone's thinking and therefore use communication styles
(or flexibility) to maximize inclusion.

Dialogue here on LO: In a large group, I don't see how to apply these
principles. One-on-one, I try to match my style to the other person.
Ditto in small groups, taking a consensus style, watching for any excluded
minority. But, in a large group, I don't know how to apply what I've
described above. Does one keep changing styles to cover all the bases? Or
to use the "right style" in each exchange? But then, you lose identity,
disappear as a person. Sherry Turkle describes how people adopt personna
and play different roles in different on-line settings; I believe she sees
this as healthy. My answer in large groups (like this) is to speak from
the heart and speak as clearly as possible.

-- Rick

On Thu, 11 Apr 1996 Fjalex@aol.com wrote:

> Hal says: "Conflict, in fact HEATED conflict, is a most powerful and
> arguably the most important method of learning known in the writings of
> mankind."
> Heat to me means heavy advocacy and little or no deep questioning.
> Therefore I distrust HEATED conversations as a place for real learning.
> Is this just semantics? Does Hal mean rigorous and intense when he say
> HEATED? In which case we would be agreeing.
> I dunno. It may just be a boy/girl thing. 'HEATED' and 'sharp' don't sound
> like I want in on the conversation.


Richard Karash ("Rick") | <http://world.std.com/~rkarash> Speaker, Facilitator, Trainer | email: rkarash@karash.com "Towards learning organizations" | Host for Learning-Org Mailing List (617)227-0106, fax (617)523-3839 | <http://world.std.com/~lo>

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