Dear Companions on the Journey,
For a time, many years ago, I was loosely affiliated with Baltimore’s Institute for Islamic-Christian-Jewish Studies. Recently they published “Do & Don’t: Sacred Rules for Peaceful Dialogue.” I share it with you:
Do: Dialogue is the mutual understanding of each other’s point of view:
- I listen to learn. I take seriously someone else’s point of view.
- I listen for strengths, so that I may affirm and learn someone’s point of view.
- I speak for myself. I use my own experiences and point of view. I try to examine my own assumption.
- I ask questions to clarify and increase my understanding of someone else’s point of view (I try to suspend judgment; and give my conversation partner a fair hearing).
- I allow my conversation partner to complete a thought. I wait until she/he is finished to respond.
- I concentrate on others’ words, feelings, body language, and other modes of communication.
- I respect others’ experiences as true and valid for them. I desire to learn from these experiences to come to new understandings of my own.
- I respect others’ feelings.
- I honor silence.
- I look for new ways to extend the conversation.
Don’t: Debate is the argument of my position over that of another:
- I listen to counter. I am closed to someone else’s ideas.
- I listen for weakness, so that I may discount and devalue someone’s point of view.
- I speak for others. I assert my assumptions about others’ experiences and motives in an effort to vindicate my point of view.
- I ask questions to control the conversation, or to confuse my conversation partner. I look for ways to affirm my point of view. My goal is to win the debate.
- I interrupt my conversation partner or change the subject.
- I concentrate on my response or my next point.
- I interpret others’ experiences as naïve, incorrect, or distorted. I desire to bring my conversation partner to my point of view.
- I distrust feelings as manipulative
- I use silence to my advantage.
- I look for ways to end the conversation.
What do you think?
And let us pray for/with one another.
The Paulist Center