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The Ten Commandments of Dialogue: #9

April 26, 2018 by

At ELP, we work with the Ten Commandments of Dialogue. The ninth is about staying curious and postponing your judgments. Many of the participants at ELP are seasoned leaders who have seen it all. We challenge them to remain curious and see the world with fresh eyes. That is important because perception determines reality. We don’t see reality as it is, but as we are. As the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, “Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world”. What we think is real depends on what we experience and what we experience is based on what we think is true. We are rarely capable of an open, non-judgmental view of the world around us. We can hardly observe openly and fully because our assumptions, distortions and inner obstacles narrow our view. We only see before us what we want to see and what we expect is there. Our belief system is the basis of our perception of the world.
Everyone has judgements; it would be superhuman not to have them. They are convinced that X is a great leader or that Y is a lousy politician. Their beliefs have become fixed. At ELP, participants are invited to consider their judgement or opinion as the start of an investigation into the underlying assumptions or values. What triggers them to think that X is a great leader or Y is wrong? Interesting insights may emerge that will make their beliefs less certain. They might even discover that uncertainty is ‘a very healthy place to dwell’, as Margaret Wheatly wrote. This is where the learning is found. “Much better to dwell in uncertainty, hold the paradoxes, live in the complexities and contradictions without needing them to resolve.” As a result, participants might become more confused, but on a higher level.
ELP invites you to temporarily suspend your current assumptions and beliefs. As the poet T.S. Eliot wrote, ‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’
The invitation to be curious goes for people as well as content. ELP encourages participants to understand their peers at the Roundtable from their different personal perspectives, not through their own lens; to see people as they are, not from the perspective of who you are yourself, and subsequently meet them in their world.