A conversational “ahha”

Every once in a while I realize that I am sliding out of line with my primary conversational practice. I suppose that I could blame my lapse on being a guy or any other excuse but the reality is I discovered a blind spot in my practice of conversation.

Now that I have started my doctoral program at Fielding Graduate University in Human and Organization Systems, our larger cohort is organized into small anchor groups for ongoing support and collaboration. It is a wonderful concept. In a very short period of time, we have shared more than is probable given that we still are learning who we are as a group and who we are as friends, associates, mentors, and confidants. Herein lies the discovery of my blind spot.

Given the stress of starting a rigorous doctoral program and given that we all have lives, work, families, and responsibilities outside of the doctoral program, it is natural that each of us experiences some uncertainty, fear, and doubts. I pride myself on listening, a critical aspect of conversation. What I found myself doing to my dismay was offering solutions to people right out of the shoot rather that just being there to listen and support. I remembered in this setting that offering critique and analysis is pivotal to this level of doctoral work, however I also remembered that I do not need to solve everyone’s problems. Each of us is a professional, intelligent, competent, and accomplished, who am I to try to solve problems for everyone else.

I am now more aware of this blind spot in my practice and will doll out advice more sparingly or when I am asked rather than immediately offering solutions when someone voices frustrations. I will be a better listener and in the end, I will be a better conversational practitioner.

Keep those conversations going.


Conversations framing my doctoral research

I recently started my doctoral program at Fielding Graduate University in Human and Organization Development. Preceding the start of the program and now after I have started, conversation has been at the core of my activities. I am having extraordinary conversations around my work, my research, and my future as a practitioner in my field.

I am reminded that learning does not happen in isolation. In fact as I approach my research and field of interest and work to narrow my interests, I am quite sure that defining my research interest would not have happened without the conversations that I am having. Juanita Brown of The World Café reached out and assembled an initial research group to help me frame my research. Out of that initial group which was formed in July, I have developed several strong friendships. Group and individual conversations have gone deeper and began to focus in on where I can make a difference in this world.

The more conversations that I have, the more clear my research becomes. All of us are in a system of service focused on helping heal our world. My work will focus on The World Café and how we can heal through intergenerational dialogues. A partnership with the Institute for Social Innovation at Fielding Graduate University will be critical as I frame this field of inquiry. I expect that I will use The World Café as a research methodology at the very least and probably as a focus for my research as well. Intergenerational dialogues will be an important piece of this work.

As the general manager that I support says of a large issue, it is bigger than a bread box, and honing in on my research question certainly as an effort goes, is bigger than a bread box. I am blessed to have such wonderful people to talk with as these conversations are going to be at the core of my learning and growth as a scholar practitioner.