Keeping the Thanks in Thanksgiving Conversation

Will your family be hosting a circle dialogue this Thanksgiving?

Many families have a tradition of going around the table and answering the question, “what are you thankful for this year?” This is a great example of an impromptu circle– just grab a talking piece (you can create one or just grab the salt shaker) and set the ground rules that when one person has that talking piece, everyone else is listening!

Remember, others will follow if you set a tone of openness and vulnerability for your circle! Promote strong dialogue with your family and friends this holiday seasons with the following tips:

Conversation starters to spice up your holiday table talk:

  1. What does it mean to you to give thanks?
  2. What expressions of gratitude would leave you feeling most appreciated?
  3. Who at the table would you like to thank personally and for what?
  4. If you could share Thanksgiving dinner with one famous historical figure, who would you choose?
  5. What question would you ask them?
  6. What are you looking forward to in December?

Tips for a constructive conversation:

  1. Avoid starting questions with “why”
  2. Start sentences with “I”
  3. Ask open-ended questions—questions that have more than a 1-word answer
  4. Use your good listening skills–that means no interruptions, watch your body language and try to paraphrase the facts and feels of the speaker
  5. Ask for clarification before making assumptions

 

Best wishes for a fun and productive conversation!


Sociology Intern’s Observations

Becca spent a lot of her internship on the phone with clients.

  As a self-proclaimed Sociology nerd, I have come to understand that I look at the world through a certain lens. I recognize that I am constantly watching people’s behavior, looking for patterns or looking to see how their behavior fits into patterns already being studied in the world of Sociology. Because of this, for the past ten weeks, I have been looking for various patterns in the world of mediation at Advoz, and I have found one that really sticks out for me.

Early in my internship, I remember going to the courthouse with Mila to greet parties for a mediation. Prior to this, she had given me directions to not bring my cell phone, as it was a new rule in the Lancaster County Courthouse that no cell phones are allowed. I listened, but still forgot to leave it in the office. I remember feeling frantic and nervous when we got to the courthouse and I realized it was still in my back pocket. I had totally forgotten it was there because it is habitual to have it with me at all times. This got me thinking about why phones were banned for the general public, and the best I can come up with is that they are a distraction and pull individuals out of the present and into a world on the screen.

            As I have gone to the courthouse more and more times, I consistently see someone at the head of the line to go through security with a phone in their hands arguing with the guard about this rule. This made me think further about how engrained it is in society to have a phone with us everywhere, and how disruptive it can be when told we are not permitted to have them.

Finally though, upon observing some mediation sessions, I realized how powerful not being allowed to have cell phones in the courthouse really is, especially for the work that Advoz does. The mission of Advoz is “[t]o transform conflict and build community through face-to-face dialogue programs”, and face- to- face dialogue is only really possible when there are no distractions, like a cell phone present. So, the rule that cell phones are not allowed in the courthouse from my point of view has led to a very positive unintended consequence for mediation. By not having a phone available as a clutch to alleviate stress during mediation, clients are put in a position where they must speak with one another in order to reach an agreement. With this, I have become even more conscious in my everyday life to put my phone away when I am having a conversation with others; I have continued to learn how powerful it is to give someone your full attention and have seen how beneficial it is in terms of communication. It is something that I will continue to practice in both my personal and professional life, and something that I hope to inspire those around me to practice. It is in many ways a trivial change to make, but I believe that it is change that can aid in fulfilling Advoz’s mission to “build community through face-to-face dialogue.”