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Conversations

I train Process Facilitators who learn to facilitate so-called  'Conversations that matter'. These are dialogue conversations with a group of colleagues, in which underlying values and motivations behind actions are examined. A conversation that is experienced as valuable because it discusses exactly what concerns the participants. That could be work-related moral dilemmas or issues in the collaboration or personal problems.

A conversation lasts half a day and is supervised by two colleagues who have followed the training. They prepare the conversation, initiate it and monitor its depth and safety, so that participants always feel invited to speak out. The aim of the conversation is to gain more awareness about your own and others' motivations and thus deepen and inspire collaboration. Themes such as diversity, inclusion and (un)desirable behavior or ethical dilemmas can be discussed with curiosity and respect for the perspective of others. Non-judgment is an ongoing exercise, which makes people feel heard and seen and has the opportunity to speak out.

So if you want to invest in safety, connection and an open atmosphere in your organization, have a number of process supervisors trained. Give these people the space to, in practice, regularly guide discussions with teams that want to do so. This way you can reach many people in your organization with a limited financial investment.

 

The process supervisors do everything necessary to achieve that goal as best as possible and no more than that. They are not there to transfer knowledge like a teacher or trainer and they are not in charge, like a manager. They are not responsible for the content of the conversation, only for the process. They influence this through the quality of their presence, their introduction, their tone and attitude. They give every opportunity to the participants' own input and continually invite them to question each other about values and motivations and to listen to each other.Practice what you preach is the motto.

 

The training lasts 4 days with a group of 12 participants and largely consists of experiential learning. The participants learn with and from each other by practicing on each other in practice sessions and discussing them together according to the method of System Centered Training (1), the theory of living human systems. The course creates more awareness about the quality of one's own presence and the importance of a vulnerable attitude. In the process, the effect of different working methods is experienced and it becomes clear which preconditions are important. One of the working methods is sociometry (2), a method to make group relationships and group dynamics visible. Nonviolent communication (3) is a common thread throughout the course. And equality, 'being at eye level', is the starting point.

The process supervisors continue to develop in practice by evaluating each conversation and giving each other feedback. After one or more courses, the organization has a pool of experienced process supervisors who can be deployed anywhere in the organization. A relatively small investment with a sustainable positive effect. For progress and quality assurance, it is recommended to also organize intervision or supervision and to choose a central point where the conversations can be requested and coordinated.

If the organization from top to bottom embraces this vision of learning together and facilitates this working method so that valuable conversations can take place regularly, this method can bring about a gradual cultural change. As Otto Scharmer describes in Theory U (4), joint deepening is necessary to achieve a new jointly supported future.

 

The depth and safety that is strived for in the conversations is also a guideline during the course. I developed this course in 2012 on behalf of the Amsterdam Amstelland Police. I have happily given these many times across the country since then.

1) SCT in Action - Susan P. Gantt en Yvon M. Agazarian, Iuniverse 2005

2) Sociometrie, door Jacob L. Moreno, grondlegger van de psychodrama

3) Geweldloze communicatie - Marshall B. Rosenberg, Lemniscaat 1998

4) Theorie U, Otto Scharmer, Christofoor, 2009

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