Speaking, Listening, Understanding
The Art of Creating Conscious Conversation
“This book results from many years of experience in a ‘self-administered’ Waldorf school. During those years, I watched the decision-making process unfold through innumerable conversations and committee meetings. It is my hope that this short text can serve as an aid for those seeking to increase their conversational ability. Only such increased competence will enable us to raise the human interaction taking place in any conversation to a higher level.” — Heinz Zimmermann
All human activity, whatever the size of the community—whether in business, the family, schools, or politics—is group activity. Such group activity depends upon the ability of human beings to work together consciously in language.
Speaking, Listening, Understanding is a book about group conversations, especially those intended to arrive at decisions and/or insights. Various types of conversations are described. In the process, we learn how individual participants, context, and mood can affect the overall process, Exercises, both group and individual, are provided for different kinds of conversations.
Rather than the dynamics of group psychology, however, the author starts from the artistic aspects of conversation: namely, language and consciousness. Using examples and anecdotes drawn from many years of work with groups, Zimmermann shows in a straightforward way what can go wrong and why. Then, through a step-by-step articulation of the processes involved in conversation—speaking, listening, and understanding—he shows what kinds of awareness and practices can strengthen the group processes that facilitate creative conversation.
This is a valuable resource for any group or community, and it is directed especially toward Waldorf school communities.
C O N T E N T S:
1. The Elements of Conversation
2. The Miracle of Speaking
3. The Art of Listening
4. Stages of Conversation
5. Conversation as an Art
6. Conversations as a Basic Form of Modern Community-Building
7. Union in conversation
8. Paths of Develpment