TED Conversations

Kathy Castle

Ph.D. Student and Course Director- Business and Professional Com,

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What would it take for you to be willing to be changed by your interaction with another?

I study communication and how it shapes our reality. Communication is very often thought of as the process by which we articulate our thoughts and ideas--and the more clearly we do that, the more effective our communication is. This, however, is not communication as I study it...it is imposition. Communication is the negotiation of a shared meaning. Dialogue is a form of communication to which we should all aspire, requiring communicators to seek to create meaning with each interaction. This process requires individuals to evaluate their own social positioning and the power that it does or does not afford them and to evaluate the social positioning of the other communicator and the power that it does or does not afford them in the interaction. Next, the communicators seek to create meaning through interaction by allowing themselves to be impacted and changed by the other person's perspective rather than impose their preconceived ideas in the interaction. In short, dialogue challenges us to question power structures and privilege the emergence of meaning that reflects all perspectives rather than perpetuating existing systems of power.

This type of communication has the potential to create space for marginalized voices in discussions---voices that must be heard in order to allow us to have a discussion that encompasses the needs, priorities and concerns of all of our global citizens. Importantly, dialogue would allow us to hear this from everyone's unique perspectives rather than casting all thoughts and ideas into a more dominant frame that ultimately subordinates specific positions. Dialogue is the vehicle through which all voices have the potential to be heard--but it is a responsibility that we share and that we don't often acknowledge. Those with more power in the dominant framework have a responsibility to create space for all voices rather than privileging voices like theirs.

Given the potential for dialogue, what would it take for us to engage it?


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    Feb 21 2012: Kathy, by reading the posts so far.....noone seems to have been changed by the interactions.

    So what has occured in YOUR opinion......have you had....






    which of the five??? I am curious to know your insight since you are studying communications. And by the way...are you studying communications as in.......becoming some type of reporter....or another type of communication?

    Mary (I am enjoying reading the different perspectives)
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      Feb 21 2012: Mary-- Interesting question. It is not dialogue, to be sure. We are in the process of stating a viewpoint...an interaction is how I would describe it at this point...and eventually, over time, the hope would be that we would make a move toward integrating each other's viewpoints into our understanding...but as I said, dialogue is something to which people should aspire--it's not easy to achieve. There is a lot that stands in our way---and I'm curious as to what others think it is that gets in the way...

      I am studying organizational communication---the way in which communication between and among people comprises organizations and impacts our ability to collectively organize toward a shared purpose. I am particularly interested in the ways in which the public talks about things and the way in which organizations talk about things and how this enables us to see the world from specific vantage points...as well as how it constrains our ability to see the world. In other words, I study the way in which public and organizational discourses intersect to inhibit dialogue. I am also interested in how moments of dialogic exchange can impact those structures that serve to limit our perspectives.
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        Feb 21 2012: Super interesting......this is a field of study, that if I had the time and energy, I would love to pursue.

        The break down of communication is so prevalent today.

        People talk at each other instead of to each other. Each trying to make his/her point understood without regards to the other's viewpoint.

        I will continue to follow your conversation for the few hours left.....

        Thank you so much for answering my curious questions.

        Be Well.
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        Feb 21 2012: "I study the way in which public and organizational discourses intersect to inhibit dialogue." I didn't see this before but see previous post about listening. Teach people to listen and dialogue flows.

        I am intrigued by the idea of integrating each other's viewpoints into our understanding. I do that on a regular basis but it never changes my viewpoints. So I am still trying to figure out what you mean by willing to change in your opening statement. Are you talking about learning new skills or developing new behaviors? Because that is easy and necessary to incorporate depending on the culture you are working in. Whatever type of culture, corporate, institutional, national or racial etc.

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