maple leaf 2-7. Dialogue + Circle Talks

I like to use an example of kayaking down a river when I compare how mainstream society and some Native people conduct dialogue. Mainstream dialogue is like traveling the rapids in a river. A person pauses in an eddy and someone else takes off. The person leaving hooks into what the previous speaker was talking about. Dialogue is fast with people who want to talk, waiting respectfully to cut in.

In a Native circle talk, a talking stick is passed around and only the person holding the talking stick can speak. This causes the pace to slow down because everyone knows who the next speaker will be. This creates a different atmosphere in the conversation, everyone has time to think of what they are going to say, as well as listen closely to what the speaker is talking about. The person who receives the talking stick does not have to "hook" into what the previous speaker was talking about.

two types of dialogue

An important shift also takes place between the head and heart. Mainstream dialogue has a focus in the head (logical), whereas the circle talk has a focus in the heart (emotional). By combining the two methods where time is spent both in mainstream dialogue and in circle talks, an environment is created where everyone has an opportunity to have input. This input often involves both a head and heart component. It has a strong tendency to "refocus" the discussions as to what is important. Thus by combining the two world views, something stronger than either one is created.


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