Posts Tagged ‘12 Manners of Voicing’

Communication Intents behind Indigo Practices

August 17, 2009

The Indigo Quadrant is where —

This series of blogs is a contribution to the shaping of new “Indigo Practices” — the survival skills we inhabitants of Planet Earth need to learn if we are to “pull through” despite the global environmental, political and religious-civilizational crises we ourselves have unwittingly created.

The communication intents behind Indigo Learning Practices are simple but challenging: to be able to understand ourselves and each other so that we can learn and build together as a group, despite our cultural, political, religious and other differences.

Towards this end, we need new and different but more workable tools for —

Here is my first-pass mind map of skills and tools for Indigo Learning Practices. It is an evolving mind map: I change and improve it from feedback from colleagues like you and as my concurrent personal experiences guide me as the blog series gets written one post at a time.

Building together

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L23- What is Your Communication Intent?

August 8, 2009


Is it to beg, ask or plead?


Or is it to rope in, coopt or recruit into your group, convince to your way of thinking?


To fight, hurt, get even, exact revenge?


To give, offer, augment, provide?


To capture, possess, ensnare?


Are you opening a door, giving a chance, offering a way, providing a choice?


Are you offering a Trojan Horse, a gift hiding your desire to capture, win, or vanquish?

What is your communication intent?

And what is your manner of voicing? (Review the “12 Manners of Voicing” in a previous blog post.)

Your end and means of communication determine its learning outcomes.

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Your Judgement Can Block Your Learning

July 9, 2009

Quoting Anthony De Mello again:

    “… what you judge you cannot understand. …if you desire to change what is into what you think should be, you no longer understand.”

When you judge you measure what is in front of you against the standards, expectations or values inside your head. You are trying to fit ‘what is’ to your concept of ‘what should be’. Judging can block your learning, which is why one of the requisite skills in a learning organization is the ability to suspend judgment.

For example, a productive brainstorming process is a two-stage process: a free-for-all no-judgment no-evaluation idea generation stage followed by a weeding-out selection or judgment/evaluation stage to arrive at the single or few best ideas. The first stage uses divergent thinking where the P-type (MBTI type) members exercise their right-brain talents of idea generation. The second stage uses convergent thinking where the J-type members exercise their left-brain screening and judgment talents. Brainstorming would be less productive if the J-types are allowed to control the first stage, or the P-types are allowed free rein in the second stage.

In the 12 Manners of Voicing (see blog entitled “L14- Voicing”), the least productive of learning are those that entail exercising judgment (the brown areas below) and the most productive are those that require suspending judgment and respecting the other person (the green areas below).



In the 12 Types of Learning (see blog entitled “12 Types of Learning”), the most productive of understanding one another are those types (those on the left side of the diagram below) where a person can show to another her past experiences that throw light in how she came to adopt her current beliefs, paradigms, interests and values. This is why story listening (NOT storytelling) is a most powerful tool for learning and understanding.

Listen to Anthony de Mello: “the shortest distance between a human being and truth is a story.”

12 ways we learn


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Ask High-Value Questions

June 25, 2009


“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first fifty five minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I knew the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

— Albert Einstein

Among the 12 Manners of Voicing, asking questions is, from my experience, the most productive of learning and innovation. I have started to illustrate asking high-value questions in a prior blog post (“Personal Learning History”).

Last March 28, 2007 I was invited to be a reactor to several paper presenters in the “National Conference on Improving Competitiveness through Science & Technology Human Resource Development.” It was sponsored by the Science Education Institute of the Department of Science and Technology of the Philippine government.

As reactor I was expected to comment on the papers presented: expand on ideas I agree with, criticize ideas I don’t agree with, etc. I decided to completely change my approach. I decided not to provide answers. Instead my “reaction” was a series of questions:

  1. Provocative questions
  2. Mind-opening questions
  3. Assumption-exposing questions
  4. Mental model-challenging questions
  5. Bias-awareness questions
  6. Blindfolds-discovering questions
  7. Discovering-what-we-don’t-know questions
  8. Attention-shifting questions
  9. Market opportunities-attentive questions
  10. Reframing questions.

You can read my short (only 5 substantive slides) presentation by holding “Ctrl” and left-clicking HERE to view my presentation in a new tab.

Learn to ask high-value questions. I call them “high-value” questions because they can lead to answers that are high-value knowledge, for example:

  1. Delighting customers instead of just satisfying them, and thereby converting customers to willing and eager salespersons convincing their friends to buy your product.
  2. Changing how we see reality: this is why “reframing” questions are very powerful. For example, if we change how we view the market then it may enable us to see new market opportunities that we hardly saw before. This can lead to —
  3. Challenging and changing the assumptions behind our business model, resulting in a better or new business model that can revive a losing business or radically outstrip all competition or lead to an entirely new and successful business venture with its own niche!


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L14- Voicing

June 22, 2009

If you grew up in North America or Europe and have lived and worked for some time in Asia, you must have experienced something similar to the following scenario in a meeting or conference among Asians:

    Many do not speak their mind in obvious deference to the boss, or for seeming fear of causing disharmony or ruining good interpersonal relationships, or because of a prevailing organizational culture against disagreements. The boss may be authoritative and he may have a habit of browbeating or putting down any idea of his subordinates. Women and juniors noticeably hesitate to speak most likely because they grew up in a culture where they are expected to just listen to men and elders. Opposing or different ideas that are suggested are expressed with painfully too much sugar-coating and diplomatic language.

If you are an Asian who has spent years in North America or Europe, you must have observed meeting or conference scenarios among Westerners similar to the following:

    Speakers are very direct and appear confrontational and even disrespectful. Ideas and counter-ideas fly in all directions and the debate is uncomfortable to Asian ears. The boss is not spared from opposing or critical views. People who are otherwise friends behave so strangely unfriendly and seemingly arrogant when they argue and debate their positions. After the meeting, everyone seems OK and so easily forget the heated and emotional meeting.

Have you personally experienced any of the above?

The manner that people voice their views in a group (including virtual e-group or discussion lists) determines whether and how far learning will happen in the group. If authentic sharing and group learning are objectives of a group, then it is useful for the group members to distinguish what are the more productive from the less productive ways of voicing.

From our experiences at CCLFI, and from the 12 Types of Learning described in another blog post, one way to be more aware of our habitual manners of voicing is through the following 12 Manners of Voicing:


The green areas tend to be more productive for group learning and mutual trust-building, especially those manners of voicing in the dark green area or described in bold letters. The brown areas tend to be less productive, especially the dark brown areas. I highlight respect — both intended and perceived — as a defining factor in how far communication and learning can or cannot proceed productively. This typology must be understood from the context of the earlier 12 Types of Learning.

If you are married or have been married, do you agree with me that during the courtship or dating stage your communications were in the green areas such as 3? After you are married or before you divorced or separated, did you also notice that your communications shifted more towards the brown areas? Couples married for decades stayed in Green Area 3 and/or at least one partner settled in the brown habits in Area 5.

Scientific discourse often lies in Areas 1 and 4. Generative dialogue lies in Areas 1, 3 and 4.

The stereotypically Asian authority-driven habits are also in the brown habits in Area 5 as well as in Areas 6, 10 and 12. These manners of voicing belong to Stage 1 of William Isaac’s four stages of dialogue. The Brown Areas 9-10 are more likely where stereotypically Western habits of speaking would likely land on; these latter manners of voicing belong to Isaac’s Stage 2. I will explain these stages in my later blog posts (L42 and L43).

These are only my personal impressions of stereotypes coming from eight years living in New York and travelling many times to eleven other Western countries; they are not the result of any statistical or scientific study so I may be wrong or inaccurate. My intention is to help us be more aware of our personal habits and unconscious group patterns of communication, and to contribute towards a more conscious and studied way of managing our group communications towards group learning and mutual trust-building.

What do you think?

Can you suggest how we can improve the 12 Manners of Voicing?

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