The Compassionate Listening Project is primarily focused on the development of a fundamental connection, and proposes that this connection must take place before dialogue can emerge. Practitioners view Compassionate Listening as foundational to dialogue, and are very much focused on creating an awareness of shared humanity specifically in cases of conflict. In a compassionate listening experience, one is working to discern the humanity of another in spite of collectively charged topics (Hwoschinsky, 2002).

Fisher and Ury’s (1981) “principled negotiation” includes the strategies to separate people from the problem and to focus on interests; both seem to be related to the criteria of re-humanizing the other and suspending judgment. This mechanism of separating the identities of the participants from their context is similar to narrative mediation in which “meanings are never finalized but are always contextual and open to revision” (Winslade & Monk, 2001, p. 126).

My view is that Bohm (1996) has defined dialogue as a process that results in re-humanizing the self and others. When fragmentation is overcome, individuals engaged in dialogue are able to connect with the essential humanity of the other. I equate overcoming fragmentation with overcoming the dehumanization of other, of enemy, identified by Sam Keen (1991). Isaacs seems to imply the re-humanizing of self and other when describing the core principles of participation and awareness when he speaks of the reciprocity of entering into dialogue (1999a, p403).

The dialogic mode of communication connects individuals to each other at the level of their humanity, which not only affirms the humanity of other but also reawakens the humanity of the self.

Posted by John Bell on December 10, 2006
Tags: The Fifth Principle of Dialogue

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