An Introduction to the "Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue" model


More detailed descriptions and helpful guidelines are outlined in a more in-depth article, here.

The Model


The Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue model is a simple and effective framework that can help guide our approach to the complex challenge of engaging in dialogue where deep discussion is taking place around potentially sensitive topics.


It helps us organize our understandings of the diverse awarenesses, skills, and methods we can use to support our efforts to remain mindful and connected with our dialogue partners, ourselves, and our intentions during challenging interactions.



The Practice


A Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue practice is anyone’s personal, effective practice of holding mindful dialogue that resonates with this model and holds and supports intentions to heal relationships, grow connection and understanding across differences, and to expand our circles of compassion.


This framework naturally encourages the use of other methods, approaches, and practices- ancient and new- that support connection, understanding, healing, and growth. Any effective approach (such as Non-Violent Communication (NVC), for example) that we personally connect with can be called upon to support us in our Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue practice.



Why Practice Common Ground Regenerative Dialogues?


The root intention of practicing a Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue is to help us improve our skills of cultivating connection and understanding across difference.


We use this practice to:


· Heal connections with people who are important to us, but with whom we find it challenging to connect

· Grow new connections, including with people with whom we have great difficulty interacting

· Deepen connections with those to whom we already feel very connected

· Help heal connections between groups in our communities

· Serve as an example for others


We recognize that among the many challenges of this practice is learning to restrain and redirect our desires to persuade others into some particular way of thinking or feeling. In fact, we actively work to transform these desires into a different desire to simply better communicate and understand one another.


Although the focus is on connection and understanding in discussion, Regenerative Dialogue practices are very much intended to enhance our ability to create effective collective action in the world. We believe that here at the beginning of the 21st century, challenges of human civilization are increasing rapidly and that growing more of these skills and communities of practice is absolutely necessary in order to learn to connect, collaborate, and organize well enough to co-create a desirable future for ourselves and for our world.


We believe that we require great and rapid evolution in most of our human cultures in our collective, collaborative abilities of:

· Meaning-making

· Sense-making

· Decision-making


Developing regenerative dialogue practices is a necessary but not sufficient aspect of creating better collective responses to our shared environments. This applies to each of us on an individual level and to all of our various groups of different sizes and at different scales, from families and communities to organizations and societies. Educating large numbers of individuals is not enough. We must also ensure that our groups are learning, as groups.


We invite you- as a conscious member of 21st century Earth- to bring this practice into your usual interactions, to use this practice to grow new kinds of interactions, and to help gather groups to practice these skillsets together. Join other groups in person and online. Start a group in your community. We are growing a living network of communities of practice, learning to grow regenerative cultures all over our planet.


Join us!



The Difference of Common Ground

is the Common Ground of Difference…


The Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue practice helps us to nurture the common ground that exists amongst any set of individuals, while simultaneously celebrating the great value of differences and the importance of diversity. Cultivating this synergy can be challenging, and the yields are abundant.


Connection can be supported throughout a deep, difficult, or sensitive dialogue by consistently acknowledging the common ground. It’s not enough just to have common ground, it must also be mutually acknowledged, explicitly and clearly.



Modes


A regenerative dialogue requires willing, able, and active participants on both sides of a sharing process. The simple act of naming these two sides of sharing- and remaining mindful of them- is another valuable tool to help us recognize and manage our contributions to a dialogue.


In the Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue model, there are two modes in which an individual can be to contribute to a dialogue:

The way one listens and holds space for others when in a receptive mode is at least as important a contribution to the dialogue as the way one expresses oneself when in an expressive mode. In either mode, regenerative ways to contribute to the dialogue in that mode will always be changing along with contextual factors, including the “phase” of the dialogue, which is explained later on in this document.


Being dedicated to mindful and heartfelt listening is one of the most influential factors of one’s regenerative dialogue practice, and it can be surprisingly challenging to maintain deep listening consistently. The ability only grows with practice.


There is a rapidly growing ecosystem of support in these areas. “Non-Violent Communication”, "Deep Listening", "”Empathic Listening", "Process Work", “Active Peace”, many others, and Mindfulness practices, in general.


Some very helpful and simple guidelines can also be found in this document created by some of the folks at Prosocial. "How Can We Make Conversations More Prosocial?"


Mindfulness


A Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue is grounded in mindfulness.

We practice remaining present with ourselves, with our dialogue partners, and with the dialogue itself.


Before engaging in a regenerative dialogue, we check in with ourselves. We connect with our breath and our bodies, and we check in with our hearts. We practice recognizing our inner states, and appreciating our limitations. We are very cautious not to enter into deep dialogue if we are not in a space to support it. We check in with ourselves consistently, especially anytime we shift modes.



Two-Way Communication


Connection can also be supported by recognizing that each mode, in fact, involves two-way communication.


In an expressive mode, it is necessary to be receiving feedback, verbal or nonverbal, to ensure as much as possible that the partners in their receptive modes are receiving what is being expressed in a way it is intended to be received.


In a receptive mode, it is necessary to help provide that feedback, whether verbally or nonverbally.



Common Ground Acknowledgement


When practicing a Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue we are consistently and clearly acknowledging the common ground throughout the dialogue.


This is a part of providing feedback as a dialogue partner in a receptive mode, and it should be thought of as a skillful way to shift from a receptive mode into an expressive mode.


As a general guideline:

State what was heard and acknowledge explicitly and clearly where the common ground is in that before entering an expressive mode to describe any additions or differences you wish to communicate.



Intentions


Our interactions grow out of our intentions, so the root of practicing a Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue is cultivating the common ground amongst our intentions.


There are many distinct intentions, connected to different desires and needs, that motivate each of us to engage in dialogue. Each participant in a dialogue usually comes into a dialogue with one or two general intentions; but we can hold many different intentions at the same time, and our intentions can change drastically from moment to moment within a dialogue.


As we begin a dialogue, we try to identify and highlight the various intentions present within us and within our dialogue partners. From there, we can begin to find common ground amongst our intentions and work to better support our various desires and needs together. We also work to keep ourselves connected with the root intention of the Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue Model: to improve our skills of cultivating connection and understanding across difference.



The Seven Regenerative Phases


A “phase” in the Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue model is a way to characterize the momentary expression of the nature of an interaction. A phase is mostly described by some of the most prominent underlying intentions of the participants of a dialogue. Some general dynamics between partners may play a role in characterizing a phase, as well.


The Seven Regenerative Phases of Dialogue in the Common Ground Regenerative Dialogue model represent one way of labeling, categorizing, and ordering some of the most general, common, and influential intentions that may be underlying a dialogue as it expresses itself, regeneratively, in a particular moment. For a dialogue to be in a regenerative phase, intentions must be largely aligned among all the participants.


More detailed descriptions and helpful guidelines for each regenerative phase are outlined in this article.

Every Person Embodies Valuable Sacred Common Ground



Experience

Dialogue partners sharing their experiences.


Perspective

Dialogue partners sharing their intellectual and conceptual orientations: ideas, beliefs, and worldviews, etc.


Empathy

Dialogue partners sharing reflections, feelings, and emotions and holding space, witnessing, and empathizing with each other.


Values Dialogue partners identifying in themselves and others, and sharing: what values are appreciated, how they are prioritized, and which lie at the root of particular perceptions and opinions that have grown in us.


Self-Examination

Dialogue partners sharing some of their own self-examination process with each other.


Common Ground Mapping

Dialogue partners actively and explicitly outlining their common ground together. This process draws from the common ground acknowledgement that should be occurring throughout the dialogue.


Gratitude

Dialogue partners actively sharing gratitude for each other, for the interaction, and for All Things, the Sacred Common Ground.


It is a valuable tool, in itself, to name, categorize, and order these phases. This order of succession of phases is derived not only from the fact that some phases help prepare the ground for other phases, but also from certain trends about how our minds and hearts tend to process things.


The Regenerative Phases, along with their order of succession, help us think about how to navigate an entire dialogue, as described here; but this “map” can also guide us in how to contribute more skillfully with a particular response in the dialogue. This is to say that a single contribution in a dialogue that contains elements from many or all of these phases, and flows through a similar kind of succession can often be a much more skillful and whole response.


However useful this model of succession is, real world dialogues will flow in and out, back and forth, and in-between the various phases in complex patterns, for complex reasons. We try to keep this order and this practice in mind, but we focus on allowing the dialogue to flow and evolve organically and allowing ourselves to be fully present. We learn to gently guide interactions towards this succession of phases, without too much disruption to the natural flow of the discussion. We avoid forcing our partners into any particular format or practice. We can share our preferences and experiences and our personal practice, and we can adapt our contributions in response to our partners’ practices. Forcing is rarely ever regenerative.


Guiding the flow of a regenerative dialogue is generally achieved through leading by example, and asking appropriate questions of our dialogue partners.



The Seven Regenerative Questions


We also ask appropriate questions of ourselves. Regenerative ways to contribute to the dialogue will always be changing along with the phase of the dialogue, and plenty of other contextual factors.

Agents of connection cultivate their skill for forming regenerative contributions to a dialogue by continuously re-examining these 7 key questions.


General Intention Questions

1) What might my partners and I want to get out of participating in this dialogue?

2) What needs and expectations might my partners and I be holding?

Phase Questions

3) What phase is the dialogue in right now, and what does the phase history look like?

4) What phases might benefit the dialogue to receive more focus, time, or energy?

Mode Questions

5) What modes are my dialogue partners in right now, and what do their mode histories look like?

6) What mode should I be in right now, and what does my mode history look like?

Integral Question

7) Is the contribution I am offering right now appropriate to this phase, in this mode, with these partners, with these needs, and in this context?




Thanks for reading.

I hope you have appreciated learning some about the Common Ground Networks approach to regenerating dialogue. Please see this article to learn more. I wish you the best of success in cultivating connection and understanding across differences


Contact us at:

CommonGroundNetworks@gmail.com

If you would like to share any thoughts or receive support applying these principles in your groups.






Common Ground Networks operates mainly out of Gainesville, FL and we are growing a Global Online Network
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