Lab: Relational Dialogue
Relational Dialogue is a conversation style I am developing that is inspired by Circling and by David Bohm’s Dialogue.
It is a group conversation, with a topic, where each participant commits to stay in connection with self and the others and to stay relatively on-topic. Our aim in the dialogue is to arrive at a deeper and fuller understanding of the landscape of the chosen topic, not to arrive at opinions or conclusions. There shall be no ambition to persuade anyone of anything.
Relational Dialogue is best when we don’t know what we are going to say while we are speaking. We explore how a topic lives in us, without trying to convince each other of previously held beliefs; we are alive.
Any chosen topic is always deepened to include not only its intellectual aspect, but the fullness of how it lives in, and impacts, each participant.
It is basically like circling, but we re-invite the intellect fully and talk about a particular topic, though without leaving our emotions and bodies behind.
An example: if the topic-header is “shame”, then an expansion of the topic can be “What does shame mean for you, what happens in you when you think about shame and when you feel shame? And what happens in you right now hearing other participants share what shame is for them. What does your intellectual and emotional landscape around shame look like, and how is it changing“.
Any impact is relevant, and any trigger and reaction in between conversation participants is also relevant to explore. It is a deep conversation where the whole of each participants being is engaged and all of it is relevant. At the same time, we want an ambition to notice and describe emotional events, without dropping into them; they can be held at a little bit of distance and talked about, not from.
Circling and Focusing are good preparations. Practising non-attachment to (and non-identification with) your opinions, conclusions and emotions is another great exercise.
This evening’s topic
We will choose the topic together at the start of the evening. If you want, you can consider one or two topics you would like to talk about and be prepared to present them to the group.