Inclusive Communication

Effective Discussion

The tool of skillful discussion is intended to help your team come to some sort of closure – reach agreement, make a decision, identify priorities, or take actions. Skillful discussion uses many of the other tools in this unit to productively generate important conclusions, decisions, or plans.

Senge et al (1994) suggests that the following five protocols can help groups engage in effective skillful discussion:

Pay attention to your intentions!

Ask yourself:

  • "What is my intention here?"
  • "What do I want from this process?"
  • "Am I willing to be influenced?"

Balance Advocacy and Inquiry – Avoid trying to "win over" or "one-upping" others in the course of deciding on the most effective decisions to make.

Ask yourself:

  • "What led you to this view?"
  • "What do you mean by that view?"

Build shared meaning – explore how to arrive at common understandings of what key concepts mean.

Ask yourself:

  • "When we use the term 'x', what are we really saying?"

Use self-awareness as a resource – especially when confused, angry, unsettled, frustrated, or troubled.

Ask yourself:

  • "What am I thinking?"
  • "What am I feeling?"
  • "What do I want at this moment?"

Explore impasses

Ask yourself:

  • "What do we agree on?"
  • "What do we disagree on?"
  • "Can we pinpoint the source of the disagreement or impasse?"