Book review: Turning to one another

Margaret Wheatley has written another beautiful book, and this time the topic is conversation. Meg (as she’s known) believes strongly in the power of conversation and dialogue to bring people together and to promote individual and shared development.

She starts the book by explaining her reasons for writing it, and by explaining her view on conversation.

She lists a set of principles, which must be emphasized to create deep, meaningul dialogue:
We acknowledge each other as equals
We try to stay curious about each other
We recognize the we need each other’s help to become better listeners
We slow down so we have time to think and reflect
We remember the conversation is the natural way humans think together
We expect it to be messy at times

When I think of many of the discussions going on at work, they are diametrically opposite to this. They are fast and goal-oriented, and leave people little opportuniy to learn together. I think we can benefit greatly from learning to slow down and engage in deeper conversation.

The book goes on to suggest a number of conversation topics. The idea is, that you get some people together, and discuss one or more of these topics. Each topic is accompanied by a mini-essay, that you could use to kick off the dialogue. There are ten topics in all for instance “What is my faith in the future”, “What do I believe about other” or “Am I willing to reclaim time to think”.

Meg Wheatley is also involved in From the four directions, an initiative that promotes circles of conversation to allow people to learn about leadership. Circles of conversation would probably be a good way to think together about the book’s topics. I’m part of such a circle here in Copenhagen, and I’ve found it to be an excellent way of connecting with other people, and of learning more about myself and others.

Like A simpler way, Turning to one another is an unconventional and beautiful book, that conveys its message through drawings, photos and poems as well as through standard text. I recommend it highly.

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