Dynamic Dialogue - Exploring Emotional Responses in Facing Potential
by Nancy Margulies Feb 1999- slightly revised by Tom Atlee May 2008
Dynamic dialogue was developed by Tom Daly & Mitch Saunders. The
process can be modified to use with your local community preparedness
group or work place.
Dynamic Dialogue enables groups to explore the range of emotional
responses that are possible in response to an issue such as global
warming, peak oil, infrastructure collapse, etc. Seated around 6-8
empty chairs, the group is invited to explore each response or position
by enacting it. Individuals take roles representing these differing
options which may be expressed very personally or as gross stereotypes.
When the position becomes clear, a name is given such as "denial"
or " survivalist" - "fear" or "others will
fix it". Communication can take various styles: one person talking
at a time, many people talking at once, emotional, sitting back in
silence. The divergent perspectives displayed and articulated do not
have to be the beliefs of those enacting them. The goal at this stage
is to name and express each possible position.
The names are written and taped to the chairs.
Noticing what happens when parts or roles are at odds may be the next
At this point the center circle of chairs are left empty, each labeled
with a label written on paper still taped to it. Participants can
then consider which "chairs" they currently occupy and then
move into those chairs to express their own feelings. People usually
discover a range of feelings they can identify.
From this point a discussion among all participants or in small groups
can focus on what possibilities they can identify or any other question
that leads to next steps.
This kind of shared, active inquiry tends to result in participants
recognizing a sense of community feeling or momentary completion,
a new awareness, or ideas for a next step. Further conversation, in
a less experiential mode, often follows, leading to deeper levels
of engagement and exploration.
Dynamic Dialogue helps us step into the paradoxes that we all live,
and claim the powers of both sides. It makes the positions clearer
and helps a group move into a discussion in which they don't polarize
on issues or hide feelings, but move ahead to share possibilities
and develop next steps.
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