Saturday, January 27, 2007

Dominate Modes of Discourse, Part II

I wrote about Dominant Modes of Discourse back in October on this blog (read it here) and not everyone had a positive reaction. A brief discussion took place on the Denver Meetup site and can be found here. One of the comments was that the posting had a "tone of altitudism -- a tendency to use Altitude to rank, or classify the perspectives of others in a limiting way rather than to enhance dialogue and understanding."

Yes, I would agree that there is "altitudism" at work, but we can choose to use "altitudism" in either a negative or positive way. I prefer to think of it in terms of discerning awareness as opposed to elitist judgementalism. Also, the terms "altitudism" and being "judgemental" have a bit of egalitarianism and relativism. Isn't making claims of "Altitudism" and "judgemental" an altitude judgement? We make judgements, no matter, whenever we are thinking, wherever we are.

In that thread Doug, who I don't know, but am sure I would like, asks "Just what is a First Tier (1T) conversation and should I be embarrassed to be having one? Is it unfortunate if we have a 1T conversation?"

As members of integral communities, if we have the means to have, or to steer towards, a second tier conversation, why would we want to have a first tier one? It doesn't mean that we're not including first tier folks in the conversation, or that we're not seeing the value of what they have to say. It just means that, as integral leaders, we want to have the skillful means to allow the conversation to come from the highest (latest, and most mature) place possible. We want to pull people forward, not get pulled back into the food fight. Using skillful means to assess where someone is coming from (translatively or transformatively) before speaking with them is wisdom. That way, we know how to speak, and not to speak, accordingly. It is, quite frankly, one of the hallmarks of second tier: appreciatiating all of the contributions of the earlier levels.

The benefit of trying to keep the conversation at the highest possible altitude should be fairly obvious: Fake it until we make it. We continue to allow ourselves to dip into higher stages so that we eventually begin to embody what we've been faking.

I'm also quoted and then responded to"

Gary quoted: "Now, there are some things you can do about that: be aware of the dominant monads of the individuals attending your meeting, if possible (you'll learn who is what very quickly in these situations, but it may take several meetings), and set up your meeting accordingly. Second tier, or teal/turquoise can skillfully guide the conversation by setting the tone of the meeting response before that participation begins."

the response: "Starting to sound a little heavy handed to me."

I can't imagine what sounds heavy handed about skillfully guiding a conversation through awareness of the 4 quadrants and varying altitudes. In SeattleIntegral, which may be very different from other groups, while we're still learning how to do this, it's been working quite well.

When we continually place ourselves in first tier, make observations from that perspective, even in a joking, self-deprecating manner, is it possible we're really saying, "well, my perspective is better, because I don't have arrogance and altitude problems?"

Wanting to have a conversation in the most mature mode of discourse possible with whomever we can seems reasonable, and necessary, especially in a salon atmosphere. Like many of my teachers, I prefer "earlier" and "later" in terms of transformational development (maturity) as opposed to "higher" and "lower". The relativistic/egalitarian types seem allergic to vertical metaphors--"Earlier" and "later" are an example of more skillful means.

I agree there's nothing wrong with green, or any other level of development, as long as it's manifested in a healthy manner. Perhaps the world could use a lot more green, but I also believe the world needs better translation at every stage. We are consciously trying to hold space for both translation and transformation, and it's a challenge because who's done it before?

(Note: My friend Tom Mull contributed to this article)


Tom Mull said...

Thank you Gary! I must say that those who have an aversion to judgement and altitudenism seem to be involved in a self performative contradiction. Making the judgement that one should not judge. We can not avoid making judgements if we are involved with time and space and thinking and doing. We need to assess what space people are coming from (translatively or transformatively) know how to talk (dominate means of discourse) with them. When certain parties seem to have an aversion to "judgement" and "altitudenism" (verticality) that is a clue to me to use skillful means with them and to use horizontal language such as later or earlier (as Terri O'Fallon mentioned to us re Susanne Cook-Greuters usage of developmental language). I try to talk their language but if they are insistant on making my hypercube Being fit into their cube worldview I'll have to leave the conversation (just like I did with my monistic Jehovah's Witness ex-wife who insisted that I live in her square worldview or hit the road (my way or the highway). I'm on the highway! =)

Gary Stamper said...

Ah, Tom, my friend....your comments (and in this case, input to the blog) are always informative and wise. Hey, Mr. Tambouri man, play a song for me......

Simon in Syd said...

Hi Folks,
With another small twist of the kaleidoscope: It might be helpful to distinguish those first tier conversations in which a person is only putting an unalloyed first tier perspective with those in which the person is putting that perspective AND, explicitly or implicitly, claiming that it is a ... sorry ... THE privileged perspective. Roughly speaking, IMO, the first requires no integral intervention, the second may do.

Another interesting first tier power play, usually unconscious (said he speak from chagrined experience) is unacknowledged reification. Tim almost killed me last week for earnestly participating in an exchange the featured the refrain "No, no, no! Science is...". Cringe! :-)

My (obvious) point is that in an integral group, we are (presumably and in part) engaged in the exercise of learning how to transcend this stuff (and include where appropriate).

...I'm not sleepy and there ain't no place I'm going to...

Gary Stamper said...

Ah,!!! with joy and love!

Rainier said...

Hi, all!

This is a fascinating topic. Gary, your response makes tons of sense. Thanks for your post, for offering more clarity and thought-provocation! (Here in Denver, we joked, "Ack, looks like we've been Stampered!" ha ha!) I hope to explore this debate more at our March meeting.

Simon, your first paragraph outlines an important distinction.

Another distinction I'd like to highlight - perhaps obvious, but a point Doug alludes to - is the one between specific comments an individual makes and the individual, him/herself. Doug writes, "If we want to understand each other better as individuals and therefore understand ourselves better, the last thing we need to do is to color-type each other. It simply misses too much. It can give us the illusion that we understand each other when in fact it's just as likely that we're wearing colored glasses that justify our preconceptions." There's wisdom here, too. It's one thing to note a comment coming from, e.g., a knee-jerk amber worldview so that we can skillfully respond. It's one thing to have a basic idea of where voices tend to come from at our meetings. It's another to hear someone announce, e.g.,"God sent me and my church group to England!" and immediately form an inflexible, whole picture of who and what that person is. The second, as Doug points out, is probably not very helpful and/or skillful. I've seen that happen - in myself, too - pretty often.

Let me just add... in the jingle, jangle morning I'll come followin' you...

Debbie H. said...

Hi Gary, hope I can still offer a comment if I'm from a place outside the Integral fold. I've been following the discussion with a lot of interest. It can be easy to "type" people, but it's important I think to continue to be open to wisdom of the deepest kind that can come from the most unexpected sources. You never know who your next best teacher will be. with love.