Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Joint Story

I find it interesting seeing how couples communicate with other people. Not necessarily romantic partners, but two people who share the experience being described. Same story, but with slightly different twists. It helps having someone else's voice and passions to add flavour to whatever you are saying. Great storytellers manage to change their pace, tone and detail to keep a listener engaged. Telling a story with someone can add flavour to the message and make it more memorable.

The dance is interesting. Particularly if both speakers are quite clear in their heads what they want to say. Interruptions can throw them off track. In many group conversations, getting your point in gets quite challenging when the passions start flowing. To speak, people have to sometimes speak over others to get a foot in. If the two speaking have to put their hand out to stop the other speaking, or force their way in, it can get messy.

In a work context, I often ended up in meetings where there would be a couple of us together. I found the Theatre Sport model a useful approach to follow. Having two parallel stories being told doesn't help. There needs to be one flow. If someone says something differently from how you would have said it, you need to let it go. The next thing that gets said needs to build on what the other person said. There need to be gaps. The periods of talking need to get shorter and clearer.

Theatre Sport teaching us how to communicate

What is great about having two people describing something is the silent person can really do some listening to the audience in between their words. We don't just speak verbally. Our body language shouts. When there are two people, the tap in, tap out nature lets you be aware of what other people are feeling.

Part of being a good listener is an exchange. People are more willing to hear when they feel heard. Great group conversations happen when people can feel comfortable being quiet because they know questions will be asked. It won't just be a series of statements and diatribes.

We should work on making gaps, building on what people say, and asking more questions
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