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Enlarging the conversation is a term that applies to the concept, stated in paraphrase, meaning understanding and listening and speaking or responding from a perspective that is larger than your own. It is surprisingly difficult to realize that other people literally understand things in a way that is different from your understanding of the same things and that this difference in understanding has the potential to completely block any possibility of mutual comprehension, clarity, agreement or accord.
Therefore the conversation must be enlarged to encompass the other's vision and understanding. The formula for enlarging the conversation, according to Liberty University (HSER 508) is: Identified Needs + Intentional Resourcing = Enlarging the Conversation. This involves asking understanding broadening questions and examining equally broadening resources, etc. Knowing the behavioral blend of both or all participants in a conversation facilitates knowing what kinds of questions to ask and what kind of resources to examine to reach mutual vision, comprehension and agreement or accord.
Understanding your behavioral blend, from the perspective of this writer, is based upon one's understanding of cultural norms, available resources for education, labor and productive aspects, as well as the value systems involved with individuals or the larger population(s). All of these factors contribute to defining "enlarging the conversation" based upon objective versus subjective perspectives. By understanding biases, values, norms (folk ways versus mores), taboos and sanctions you can begin to attempt to bridge gaps by exploring differences and similarities. The idea is to strengthen the communication process. Having a completely open mind when communicating may be a challenge in itself.
Burke's parlor immediately comes to mind. Before one can engage in meaningful, stimulating discourse, they must first become educated on the topic. This could mean, for example, conducting extensive research or speaking with a more knowledgeable other, and then take into consideration previous, present, and future conversations with an understanding that each contributor brings a different set of values, experiences, and cultural backgrounds - each of which shapes a person's perspective on any given topic.
In order to enlarge the conversation, after taking the necessary steps to become educated, one must also use metacognition to understand how one's knowledge combined with past experiences, culture, biases, and morals will continue to stimulate the conversation while also being ever mindful of others' behavioral blends.
Having an understanding of our 'behavioral blend' is important to broaden awareness of how easily communication breakdowns can occur. We all have different beliefs and understand concepts based on what we know and have experienced in our own lives.
When one has an understanding we can then have a conscious awareness to open our minds to listen to others beliefs, responses, or views.This allows others to feel more comfortable to share and 'broadens' the interactions. By being a true listener and allowing real conversation and discussion to take place we can 'broaden the conversation' allowing for more intellectual and stimulating exchange of information to take place.
An individual's language, culture, and upbringing define the way he interprets reality, and of course, on a prima facie level, languages, accents, and dress seem to separate us. Imagine someone in South America who has never encountered the word nor the animal "elephant," put him in Asia or Africa and he may look upon one for the first time with an unsettling shock. This feeling is what we seek to treat in bridging communicative gaps with others. We wish to enlighten ourselves beyond our own experiences, tapping into a more collective, eusocial form of understanding.
Similarly, we are all brought up with certain beliefs, principles, affiliations, what have you, that distinguish us from others around the globe. Rabindranath Tagore put it one way, "Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity..." Here, he is saying the superficial and artificial differences we create to separate us crumble to reveal a more profound, underlying connectivity or likeness. If this feeling of mutuality can arise through conversations and thoughtful debate, perhaps it can more potently pervade our globalizing community.
'Enlarging the conversation' is a phrase used to suggest looking beyond the immediate, first responses because they are usually conversation limiters. Thinking past initial responses gets easier once you have an understanding of your 'behavioral blend,' which is a way of saying that knowing yourself will help you see that your reaction to what others say is frequently because of something in you: past experiences, things you have heard or read, etc. True communication is actually fairly difficult because what we hear someone say, is often not what they are actually saying. Our brains are very good at filling in any 'unknown' with something from our history! Just remember all the times someone didn't understand what you were trying to say; the goal is to really listen and ask questions to ensure understanding, without making assumptions. It is a worthwhile exercise to just observe a group conversation; it is easier to spot all the communication misses when you are not participating. And once you see (well, hear) it, you know what you are trying to go supersede.
When someone looks at an issue, problem or phrase from different angles formed from his or her behavioral blend (a result of their varied personality) it broadens their views. Hence, this person does not respond in a limited way, but responds from varying perspectives which welcome others to contribute their ideas and views and as such enlarges the conversation. Simply, when you allow yourself to acknowledge someone else's point of view by thinking of yourself in their position you encourage that individual to share his or her ideas, causing the conversation to widen. This sometimes results in the conversation becoming more intellectually engaging and reflective of different backgrounds, traditions and cultural views of participating individuals. But for this to happen one must be aware of their own behavioral blend of personalities so as to welcome or even try to understand the behavioral blend of another person.
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