Emergent Dialogue & Focusing

Coming Home to Oneself Sovereignty Mutual Inquiry Collaboration


Emergent Dialogue

What kinds of groups have you been in that accomplished its mission for a meeting? that felt inclusive and satisfying, or left some unresolved tension you could feel in the group? that reached some clear completion, or got sidetracked by one concern which left many other's concerns out? Have you experienced intention and pacing shift and flow while also staying on a consensual track? I know for me, this has been rare, except for listening circles where agreements for 'no crosstalk', for example, were in place - yet we we're exploring a shared theme or trying to create something or solve a problem.

A skilled facilitator is vital to group process when there is diverse, but they have to track a lot! What if, instead, compatible people themselves took up certain skills a facilitator manage, and took up listening agreements the facilitator would normally manage?

Emergent Dialogue (Em-D) is a way of assisting each other to own our feelings and thoughts, to trust the meaning (intuitions) of our felt experience, and to identify next steps in our living. Em-D consists of skills and agreements. Wouldn't it be nice if your collaborations and interactions could safely include an inspiration rising up, or the tug of a difficult feeling, without self-censorship, or having your idea seemingly squashed by a comment? Do sometimes feel overly responsible for others? Would you like to be individuated enough so that you are easily grounded and compassionate, and to have that presence from others? Sometimes we have a feeling about something that feels very important, but we can't yet put it into words, so we hold it back, or even discount that feeling. What if you were held in a community of co-creation and mutual growth, a way that you could express and be heard that didnt' close any doors? You could develop that inspiration and complete that difficult feeling! Of , revalations like this happens to each of once in a while, but it's kind of an unconscious accident.

Em-D is like a jazz ensemble, each musician building on and contributing to others improvisations, instead of a hierarchical process fixating on what's rational or deemed practical. In Em-D, we allow reason and explanations, but we anchor ourselves first in Emergence. Em-D includes a dozen or so tangible SKILLS OF PRESENCE derived mostly from Focusing and Nonviolent Communication, and we apply them to our listening and speaking. You can look Em-D as a verbal and perceptual component to meditation practice. We learn to discern the aspects of our experience, to develop self-empathy, to use words in a way that moves us forward, and to offer empathic support without having to necessarily understand or fix the other person. We learn it through one-on-one coaching, practice it in regular partnerships, and experiment with group exploration. Take it as far as you want to. Ideally, we humans could bring Emergent practices into stable communities of interdependency organized around providing basic needs, which could be a collaborative work environment, an art or activism project, in eco-villages or spiritual centers, and any place where we have daily contact with our peers. Beneficially, developing one's sensitivities and individuation through these skills of presence lends itself to dialogue with Nature and the elements. This practice facilitates sovereignty and cooperation, brings us closer to our wild knowing, intimacy, and discovery.

Teachable Emergence Skills

  • Separating a Stimulus from the Emotional Reaction
  • Revolutionary Pause
  • Clearing a Space
  • Reverential Listening
  • Letting a Felt Sense Form
  • Self-in-presence
  • Following a Feeling into Basic Needs
  • Finding a Handle
  • Verbatim Reflection
  • Resonating
  • Cushioning Language
  • Recognizing a Felt Shift
  • Tracking Self and Other