How can we promote deeper communication in organizations?
Our June 13 program meeting was “Going Around in Circles II”. This was a revised version of our very popular May 2005 “Circles I” meeting. Both programs provided experiential learning on Dialogue Circles, Learning Circles, Speaking Circles, and Study Circles.
These techniques offer powerful tools for improving communication at the personal, team, or organizational level. Inasmuch as they are (somewhat like, say, swimming) only capable of being learned by doing them, the chance to experience and compare them provided a virtually unique opportunity that was much appreciated by those attending.
This time we did things somewhat differently than in the predecessor program, which was done in our “four presentations given twice” format. On this occasion, we had a first round in which participants had their choice of Dialogue, Speaking, or Study circles, followed by a second round in which we had a Learning Circle whose topic was comparing the experience of the three other forms of communication.
In the Learning Circle, we reflected on our prior circular experience, considering what feelings it brought about, how it differed from our usual conversations, and what we would take from it for application in our personal and work lives. We then compared our thoughts, first in pairs and then in groups.
One point that was the subject of much discussion was the difficulty in introducing these practices in the workplace. In part, this seems due to the novelty of the methods; they are not easy either to describe or to show. Moreover, in environments in which emphasis is put on results and the “bottom line,” advocates of what are perceived as slower and more indirect methodologies have a hard time making their case.
Indeed, when we’ve covered these topics in other Learning Group meetings, the biggest problem does seem to be “there is not enough time”. This problem was also the topic of the June 6 meeting of our Deeper Inquiry Group.
Accordingly, we’ve posed as our Question of the Month, “How can promote deeper communication in organizations?” Of course many of the other issues that arise in relation to these techniques are also very worth discussing. So let’s hear what our members and presenters think!