Friday, September 24, 2010

Dialogue Diplomacy

Zenning Clint
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
I read the Northwest Trail with interest about the facilitator visits on campus recently here at Northwest College. As some of you know, Dr. Pamila Fisher—a facilitator and mediator—was invited to assist us in working through the turmoil of last year as a result of a few significant and controversial events. In particular what caught my attention was her call to “creating a positive environment” by avoiding the use of email and blogs to criticize one another.


I agree with Dr. Fisher’s declaration as long as we’re focusing on the idea of personal attacks via email and blogs. But, I have to wonder if her counsel could be misconstrued, thus demonizing those who voice their opinions via email and blogs—like me.

Lately, there’s been much talk about the merits of face-to-face discussions over email and blogging. I don’t want to pooh-pooh dialog in the flesh but, it has its drawbacks as well when compared to email and blogging. For one, face-to-face discussions can get quite “passionate” leading to the parties involved saying things they regret. Further, face-to-face meetings often don’t include everyone that should be considered in the discussion.

On the other hand, email and blogging gets everyone involved (that wants to be involved) right away—and if nothing else, produces concerned spectators. “Hiding behind one’s computer” (as some consider it) allows for rationale, careful and organized thoughts to be worked out. Sure I’ve said a few things I regretted after pressing the “send” button, but I’ve regretted much worse and more often when carrying out a discussion in person.

I’m not advocating email and blogging over face-to-face dialog, but I’m also not saying face-to-face is clearly superior either.

Dr. Fisher was quoted in the Trail saying, “I also encourage you that while you’re practicing these things (i.e., not emailing or blogging?) and you have a colleague who does not, to consider having the courage to stand up to them and suggest that it might be better if they did. That’s probably the toughest one on the list.”

Consider me told. Nevertheless, I can be found in FAB 13 where I will gladly refer you to this entry.


Anonymous said...

1. Be humble, 2. listen to each other with respect and 3. CARE ... for those who disagree, for the community you want to be better and the public you serve. It is a process. NO book of regulations covers it all.

Ken Williams

ron feemster said...

I'm in favor of asking people to write more, but in public, not in private. Let them write letters to the editor -- and sign their names.

Ron Feemster

Anonymous said...

It can be as simple as people not following email etiquette. Many folks use the CC and BCC to people that should never be involved in the conversation. Would you bring all of these folks to the office with you to have the same conversation you would have over email? The same conversation that may be damaging to someones integrity or reputation and makes it harder for someone to do their job in the future.