Turn-taking in dialogue process

The Dialogue Process centers around listening—to yourself as well as others.   The Process requires structured turn-taking.   The protocol I have developed is as follows:

The overriding idea is to keep focused on listening well. You won’t listen well if you are thinking about whether you will get to talk next or are holding on tight to what you want to say.
Take a numbered card when you feel that you would like a turn, but keep listening. When your turn comes, show your card, and pause. See if you have something to follow what is being said, even if it is not the thought you had wanted to say. You can pass.
Try to make turn-taking administer itself so the facilitator can listen well and participate without distraction. When you finish speaking (or if you decide to pass), put your card on the stack of used cards so the person with the next card knows that they can begin.

Yesterday, with a group of 17 people in a cramped classroom, we successfully used an alternative:

Everyone was given a card.  One person volunteered to keep the list of who had asked for a turn and announce who was next when the previous person finished.  Instructions: “When you feel that you want a turn, pick up your card and direct it to face the list-keeper, who nods to acknowledge that the request has been noted.  When your turn comes, show your card, and pause. See if you have something to follow what is being said, even if it is not the thought you had wanted to say. You can pass.  When you finish speaking (or if you decide to pass), put your card back down (or say I’m finished) so the list-keeper knows that they can ask for the next speaker.”

Advertisements

About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

One Response to Turn-taking in dialogue process

  1. Rhoda says:

    Hello Peter – From the limited experience I have with this process I find the larger groups more troublesome to engage with using this or the alternate tool. Seventeen seems large for any real dialogue but I am interested in hearing how this process helped scaling. I find the list-keeper strategy helpful in that attention is not centered on keeping track of one’s own number in the stack and therefore more easily brought back to listening. But I wonder if the turn-taking admin becomes disengaged in the dialogue or if having to pay attention somehow intensifies attention?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: