Amanda Palmer writes in her recent post-In China bamboo farmers plant baby bamboo shoots deep into the ground. And then, for three years, nothing happens. But the farmers will work, diligently watering the shoot, spreading hay and manure, waiting patiently, even though nothing is sprouting up. They simply have faith. And then, one day, the bamboo sprout appear and shoot to thirty feet in a month.
Dialogue is like that. Talking, discussing, respecting each other’s views- it is a very slow process but it is sure one that makes relationships work. The Toda Institute of peace has devised a tablet of Ten Commandments for Dialogue that has proved useful in complex situations of conflict. Unlike the other Ten Commandments, this one is subject to negotiation.
- Honour others and listen to them deeply with all your heart and mind.
- Focus on the agenda while seeking the common ground for consensus, but avoid groupthink by acknowledging and honoring the diversity of views.
- Refrain from irrelevant or intemperate intervention.
- Acknowledge others’ contributions to the discussion before relating your own remarks to theirs.
- Remember that silence also speaks; speak only when you have a contribution to make by posing a relevant question, presenting a fact, making or clarifying a point, or advancing the discussion to greater specificity or consensus.
Identify the critical points of difference for further deliberation.
- Never distort other views in order to advance your own, try to restate others’ positions to their own satisfaction before presenting your own different views
- Formulate the agreements on any agenda item before moving on to the next.
- Draw out the implications of an agreement for group policy and action.
- Thank your colleagues for their contribution.