conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Juxtapose: Alongside is the New Black

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Confession from a monochrome space

Putting like and unlike next to each other can have unanticipated results. Chefs know this and routinely put tastes together that “should” never go together to create things that are suddenly wildly tasty (dumb example: salsa on scrambled eggs shattered the sheltered world of my taste buds. So did Chicken Tikka Masala). As a copywriter I pull from poetry and technology and design and even theology and philosophy to place a disparate idea next to my client’s problem to see what may result. It is tried and true method for breaking out of the invisible constraints we didn’t even know held us back.

Yesterday I talked with a friend about a Respectful Conversation Project she had been involved with concerning the upcoming state vote on the marriage amendment. She described the training in dialogue and how so few of us know the difference between dialogue and debate. Debate is our knee-jerk response to different.

And that’s too bad.

Because just a few honest questions about the story behind a conviction, for instance, can do a lot to grow understanding and empathy. It turns out there are academic groups dedicated to this notion of appreciative inquiry as a management tool and a method of organization development. And there are resources like the Respectful Conversation Project moving toward the same end in our communities.

“Alongside” is an effective, creative tool that can build understanding and empathy and solve problems.

I’m still new to this generous notion of “alongside.” My formative years were spent in a land of black and white, where good was good and bad was bad and any fool could distinguish between. This monochrome way of life instilled deep revulsion (yes, that is the word) toward any pursuit of naming the shades of color between the usual poles. It’s taken years and questions and lots of discussion with patient friends but I still find myself curiously uninformed about all the places “alongside” can appear.

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Image via 2headedsnake

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Written by kirkistan

October 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

One Response

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  1. […] diverse knowledge and experience to bear on the work. This is where we learn what it means to be alongside […]


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