4 月2014年 對話新訊息 April 2014 Dialogue Newsletter
三月"太陽花學運",社會中呈現許多不同的觀點與立場, 大家各自表述, 奮力強調自己的主張, 很少聆聽對方. 讓我深深覺得對話素養要平日就養成, 才能在關鍵時刻展現化解衝突的神奇力量. 正逢此時, <對話力-化解衝突的神奇力量>即將再版, 我們邀請至善基金會洪智杰執行長為此寫序文。洪執行長根據親身工作經驗指出對話的挑戰。 的確, 社會對話這條路,還有很長的路要走, 大家加油!
by Jay Hong, Executive Director of Zhi-Shan Foundation Taiwan (財團法人社會福利至善基金會)
March’s “Sunflower student movement” brought out the expression of society’s many different perspectives vigorously advocating for their point of view while relatively few were listening to the other side. I feel deeply that doing dialogue well requires cultivating its qualities in our daily life. The foundation invited the Executive Director of Zhi-Shan Foundation, Mr. Jay Hong, to write a few words about these recent events by reflecting on his own experience of dialogue’s challenges through his work. Indeed, society’s road to dialogue is still long, so let’s give each other support along the way!
On March 18, 2014 student protesters occupied Taiwan’s highest public office, the Legislative Yuan, and grew into an unprecedented challenge to Taiwan’s democratic space. After two weeks of this Sunflower student movement, the news were still broadcasting separate statements by student leaders and the Legislative Premier’s, shown on divided screens. An agitated mood spread across Taiwanese society; so to ease my nerves I decided to take a walk on Xindian’s lion mountain. Breathing regularly, sweating and my heartbeat accelerating, I reflected on the public’s many calls for dialogue over debate, bringing my thoughts back to the book “The Magic of Dialogue: transforming conflict to cooperation.”
In my work serving as the Executive Director of Zhi-Shan Foundation I’ve had the opportunity to serve for many years in the field of cultural diversity, in many different industries, organisations, ranks, generations and countries; and I’ve experienced many failed attempts at dialogue as well.
For example, two outstanding workers argued about different opinions on how work should be divided, until both left the organisation. In this case, because of the influence of hierarchy these two idealist and capable professionals were afraid to express their true thoughts and consequently were unable to work effectively together. Two leaders with strong subjective views, seeking to convince the other, and failing to listen led to a broken meeting between the executive, subordinates and departments because the gap between their expectations and the reality, or the gap between tolerance and conflict, created only poor outcomes for the whole organisation. Even on the rare occasion when everyone is able to meet face-to-face, the discussion would inevitably become unfocused, unable to reach a conclusion and felt to be a wasted meeting. In the end, even though our intention behind convening everyone together was good, it’s still difficult to achieve the high quality dialogue we aspired for.
Genuine dialogue is desperately needed. “The Magic of Dialogue: transforming conflict to cooperation” author, Daniel Yankelovich, emphasises three core requirements for dialogue: equality and the absence of coercion, listening with empathy, and bringing assumptions into the open. Practicing equality requires removing pride and positions of power, empathy penetrates negative discourse as an obstacle to our inherently positive feelings, and identifying assumptions requires a high degree of awareness about one’s own thoughts.
The author then gives fifteen strategies for cultivating dialogue: focusing on common interests rather than divisive ones - consciously removing the pressure of decision-making from the process helps to enhance the dialogue quality. This strategy enables emotions and real feelings behind one’s firmly held values to emerge and enriches my relationship with colleagues and the quality of dialogue. In addition to the fifteen strategies, Daniel also points out ten potholes that hinder dialogue. These are one’s bad habits of communication and he offers some recommendations.
The latter section of the book addresses the broader social and political structure of American culture. From cultural gaps, public policy discussion, politicians’ fear of losing power, to the myth of political experts, the decline of new ideas from the intellectual class, pluralism, free market and civil society all of which are experiencing a battle of visions. Taiwan’s democratic experience the value of diversity and dialogue capabilities are increasingly important for our current affairs. I believe this book will arouse a deeper reflection among Taiwan readers today.
“The Magic of Dialogue” publication is a response to current social needs. I'm thankful for the Yen Foundation’s unrelenting efforts to promote social dialogue and to invite us to climb the mountain to good dialogue; this book offers encouragement and guidance each step of the way. I wish you all breadth of vision and smooth communication, we can do it together!