Talking Stick

I want to change the format of the national, cultural, and global discourse.  

I want our normal way of communicating evolve from one in which we take a side of an argument, present it, and defend it.   I believe that we have devolved into a state where actually fostering some sort of common understanding, and even eventually forming mutually agreeable solutions, is no longer even a goal.  The goal in the usual, public debate on any issue seems to be posturing, spin-doctoring, and disseminating outright propaganda.

I would like to establish a new format of communication.  Like "Robert's Rules of Order" (Parliamentary Procedure), I would like to establish something like the rules behind the use of the Native American Talking Stick.

If people have heard of this before, they usually think it's "oh yeah -- whoever gets the stick gets to talk."   This is true.  But it missed the point.  The real beauty of using a Talking Stick is that you don't get the stick in the first place until the person with the stick feels understood by you.  If you don't have the stick, you can ask a clarifying question, but you can't present your own opinion, and you can't even agree or disagree.  Only when the speaker is done does he hand the stick over to the next person, at which time he doesn't get to keep it (or doesn't get it in the first place) until he can express the previous speaker's viewpoint to their satisfaction.

We need this in our public discourse.  We need more listening; less talking.  

Here's an article on the subject, in the context of Organizational Change (after all, what I'm lobbying for is a fundamental aspect of Organizational Change -- Communication).

It seems to me that we're dealing with a backlash of some combination of 24-hour news media needing to fill their time, and the onset of social media.  We have these tools, but haven't learned to use them wisely yet.

 

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