Embodiment Hour @ The Stoa Tomorrow at Noon EST ~ Good and Bad Faith Communication
Riffing on a Stoa theme from this week courtesy of Zak Stein
I was inspired this week by the Stoa session featuring Zak Stein of the Consilience Project talking about good and bad faith communication. The session built on this article. Zak lays out the situation clearly and with grace—clear about the danger of this moment and all that is wrong with the way we’re communicating, and gracefully offering hope that this is something we can solve.
Let’s tune in tomorrow to see how good and bad faith communication work in the body.
Zak defines bad faith communications at the beginning of his talk as:
Bad faith communication is communication where parties begin to feel there’s really no point in continuing to communicate. There’s not an actual interest in reaching mutual understanding. There’s an interest in some other strategic outcome.
So importantly, the interest in reaching mutual understanding is key to good faith communication. But, mutual understanding is not consensus. In fact, the most important thing to know about this difference between good and bad faith communication is that it doesn’t hinge upon everyone believing in the same thing or falling into a lockstep consensus and that’s what it means to be in good faith is that we can all basically take the same assumptions. That’s not the case. Good faith communication is a prerequisite for some kind of learning process where you’re committed to mutual understanding even though you may not reach it.
And he goes on to say…it can be solved with pretty simple tactics:
It’s actually not a huge, difficult technical problem to solve. It actually requires a bare minimum of facilitation training and certain reflective tools (reflective metacognitive toolkits) that allow people to pull back from the reactive fall into bad faith tactics and kind of remind themselves of the higher purpose of why they’re talking to their neighbors…it’s unlikely your neighbors are actually insane, though on FB you would be led to believe that…
TOMORROW: What is a Woman?
Tomorrow during embodiment hour, I want to look at a new documentary called What Is a Woman? by Matt Walsh. I haven’t seen the whole documentary, yet, but I have been viewing clips and educating myself about Matt and his point of view. I’m curious whether we think his new movie is an example of good or bad faith communication? Maybe a little of both. Is he looking for real answers, understanding, and common ground? Or is he trying to build his own argument, closed to opposing views, and reinforcing his own position?
I was also thinking about examples of good faith communications I’ve come across. A few years ago, I was working with a political grassroots organizing group on a listening tour of rural America. The idea was to convene small groups of local people in small towns across America with opposing political views and try to find the shared values and common ground between them: what do we want for ourselves, our town, our children?
We never made it into the field with the project because the political landscape heated up and they felt they needed to spend their resources canvassing and getting people to the polls. The decision was disappointing for me. It seemed shortsighted and I felt that the listening tour could have been part of an important healing process for this country. I STILL think it would be a great project if anyone has funding ;)
During that time, I was collecting examples of what I now know as “good faith communication.” These were simply examples of people rising above their personal position to open up to the differing perspective of another, even when that perspective might initially feel threatening or challenging. Below is a clip from an MSNBC news call in show featuring Heather McGhee of Demos. This was one of my favorite examples. It’s worth watching. Spoiler alert, Heather and the caller ultimately met in person and became friends.
Here is the graphic from the Consilience Project article as a shorthand for our conversation tomorrow. I find this incredibly useful.
JOIN Me Tomorrow at Noon.