31 Dec 2006, 8:44am
Books Communication

Participatory Decision Making

book by sam kaner et al Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making by Kaner et al has some lovely chapters for business and organizations on brainstorming, flipcharts, unruly agendas (or participants) but most interesting to me are the whys and hows of responding to people. We’ve all seen it done well and badly and have done it ourselves but having it all tabled up in one theme is delicious.

For example, if someone in public discussion present what they term “ideas expressed in unacceptable communication styles” the book gives examples of how to listen skillfully.

  • If someone is repeating themselves, paraphrase to summarize.
  • If someone exaggerates and distorts, the facilitator can “validate the central point” without getting into accuracy.
  • When someone expresses ideas with intense emotions, the facilitator can acknowledge the emotion and pick out the speaker’s point.

There’s a reason the book’s stayed in print for a decade.

It’s got some cute worksheets like how to mess up an agenda. It’s funny because I’ve seen in enacted so often. For example, after brainstorming

  • roll up the flipchart of ideas and it never see the light of day again, or
  • have the secretary type it up to much the same effect. Or
  • have a committee member assigned to sort it into action items and then don’t put that person’s follow up on the next agenda.

The Hows and Whys of paraphrasing, drawing people out, echoing, tracking discussion, intentional silence, devil’s advocacy and drawing up commonalities would hold one in good stead in any kind of communication. It goes further than other books I’ve seen in having probably phrases to really hand-hold through it.

I’m thinking it might be worth adding as sidenotes (i.e. bottom notes with links) one bit at a time to think about for a week or two. These aren’t quotes but paraphrases and thoughts around the presented tables from the book.

Community-Minded Communication: 1) Paraphrasing Use your own words to reparse. “This is what I’m hearing…” To be effective it would have to be said so far as possible in warm to lukewarm neutrality but no heat or chill in the voice that could derail. It’s all about understanding the other person in that moment. It clarifies and calms and sorts out convolution on either side. It doesn’t summarize to tidy up what was said, but make sure you’re both hearing the same thing.

Art Link: Scribbler will take your mouse entered line drawing and turn it into a sketch.

Photo Link: Lucullian Delight has the most amazing food photography.

Architecture Link: photo rendering plugin for Sketchup

30 Dec 2006, 11:40am
Goals Poets

2006 Overview and 2007 Resolutions

What I want for 2007

What I want next is leftovers of desires of 2006 and much earlier.

“A confession has to be part of your new life.” Ludwig Wittgenstein

  1. Secure Money and Career. I want a good paying job ($45,000-$100,000, I’m not picky) that I’d be good at, is reasonably secure and close enough to my home that I’m not spending my life in commute. I’m still torn between doing something in technical writing or editing and doing a total shift and do something more hands-on, like print media or plumber after a college training course and internship. But first I need to nail down cash flow (to mix my metaphors).
  2. Polish and Send off Poems. I want to finish sorting my poetry with tags and one file per poem so I know what I have and with that in mind can hone and send off some to some market at some regular rate to be determined.

    Now a few family members are asking after where I’ve been published and when my book is coming out. Nothing’s more powerful than social pressure to light the butane under one’s butt I suppose.

  3. Improve Fitness. I want to get back on the fitness track. Cycling faltered in 2006. Gym routine poufed. Since 2002 I’ve been meaning to get back on the weighlifting track. It’s been piddling occasional effort and the muscle definition of 2000 and 2001 keeps getting further away. I’m nearly back to 1998 level of cardio. Which I suppose I could spin as feeling as fit as myself nearly a decade younger (but that would be fudging, wouldn’t it?)
  4. Laugh More. Flow and play and enjoyment have been part of the programming for a while but it slipped. This year I’m really cracking down. Zero tolerance, non-negotiable mandate for the humor schedule marked out in triplicate. Ahem.

2006 has seen a lot of changes.
We settled into a new home. I shifted into different routines, moved from one line of work and trying to figure out what I want to switch to. Did this job change against all sage advice of always have the next job securely in hand before you quit the first. Got a contract now but not a career.

On the plus side, compared to a year ago, I feel so well.

  • I can do stairs without thinking about them,
  • go on long walks without the showing whites of the eyes of dread of how much I’ll pay for it through my knees the next day.
  • I can comb my hair and can lift my arms without pain and get a mug from a shelf without thinking about it.
  • My back doesn’t lock up (much).
  • I don’t as often have the sense of my energy strings being cut from exposure to people’s emotional vents.

My writing of prose and poetry has improved to be more easily brief and focused. Resistance to assertiveness, and bowing to scardey-cattedness has lessened. Our finances… are not so much on the positive side. I’ve kept in better touch with family and friends but room for improvement there. I went out socially much more. I actually phoned people I wanted to talk to more often.

I still feel like I have cobwebs in the brain more than I should and as a result I want to get back to that clarity of thought when I was higher muscle mass. On the plus side, it is clearer already, from continuing to eat better and taking that step away, to clear the head. In a way not pushing myself so hard allows me to move forward more. Hm. I expect less and am less rigid. Perhaps that too is a natural outcome of learning to not provoke myself and get myself out of threat-frame, internally or externally.

I think the whole notion of caring with a gap — so that one can care without echoing, reflecting, amplifying the seen emotion — is starting to take hold. I’m not bent to be such a bleeding heart around wounded spaniels. An impartiality entering love is perhaps a way to understand it. I seem to have, over the last year, cultivated emotional callouses from carving out better boundaries for myself.

Quote: “”Make it a rule of life never to regret, and never to look back. Regreet is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it; it’s only good for wallowing in.” — Katherine Mansfield (who I don’t see any reason to admire but she said a good rule of thumb)

Haiku Links: Dogosan’s Haiku Primer gets into matters of onji (sound symbol), line breaks, insight, non-contrivance and the main blog f/k/a there has some favorite haiku from anthology and some strong examples of the form by the group blog members

Language Link: Simply Haiku has an interview with Jane Hirschfield on the challenges of translating poetry

Light Link: Things a man should know: about fatherhood is from Esquire. It’s a couple pages of sometimes humorous insights for/from fathers from babyhood to teenage years. For example,

28. When changing diapers, avoid baby powder, as it can irritate her lungs.
When changing diapers, definitely don’t avoid the Desitin–spread it thick, like Spackle.

46. There is only one reason for a teenager to burn incense, and we think you remember what it is.

29 Dec 2006, 2:20pm

2006 Resolutions, Year End Results

Part of me has a definite, heels-gouging-the-floor reluctance to go look back at 2006 resolutions, 1st quarter review and 3rd quarter review to round up the results and tie that up for the year. It isn’t so bad really. There’s a good distance travelled.

Of the resolutions…

  • Push the mental reset button. That’s improved and been able to be done faster. When someone’s in my face, taking a deep breath and saying nothing til they’ve worn themselves out is a next target. Even that’s improved. Maybe because of the structural reorganization I’ve done, baseline threat level in life is down; it takes me far more now to push me to the edge of stressed. Sure I still get thrown into a dizzy blind tizzy when I’m short of rest, food and time but the tooth grinding has come way down.
  • Small talk more and better. I’m satisfied with progress. It’s not such a biggie anymore due to pushing myself to exposure. I want to remember to not only retain people’s names and what they’ve said but actually reference it to the person. Details, details. That balance between vague open ended questions and really nitty gritty closed ended questions. For example, remember that son is 7 years old, likes soccer and is a baseball league and is named Brent but only ask how’s your son?
  • Get up earlier was modulated to an understanding that I get time alone when I first come to; no demanding anything of me until I am at least on my feet. That works to the intended end of the resolution.
  • Don’t impose my frazzle on others. That was modulated as well. I am better aware of how I’m feeling and can check myself before I get so far and give myself the space and permission to walk away or buckle down without getting fixated the same way. As well I give myself more leeway for being human and that includes cranky or anxious. Coupled with that is in my opinion more acceptance that these feelings develop and won’t kill me and I can get a better grip on them. I notice more patterns of other people being frazzled or cranky and how it can be shrugged off, not taken as a flash of the true underlying nature of anyone.
  • Learn more about vegetarianism. Done. It doesn’t seem so all fired important anymore. I’m tired of debating and defending it. If someone serves me meat, I’ll make like a Buddhist priest and eat what’s offered without a fuss, (unless it’s some species or body part that really makes me blanche).
  • Net income up Hm, way down instead but that’s temporary.
  • Amused state of choice The clear-eyed factor has come, gone, come, and is sticking around more.
  • Overall, far more pleasing and pleasant than I expected. But then, life generally is.

    Next up, overview of 2006 and resolutions for 2007.

    Currently reading: Monty Reid’s Disappointment Island, Curtis Dunlap’s tanka, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in audio CD, Thomas C Haliburton’s The Clockmaker, Kaner et al’s Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making and Wen Spencer’s Wolf Who Rules.

    28 Dec 2006, 7:23pm
    Pearl's Life

    Name it What You Will

    I’d do something but it’s evening and I’m s(ed)ated by a powerful combination of

    1. Charles de Lint book conclusion (this guy actually lives in Ottawa!),
    2. cat (aka whiskerface couch gargoyle, her royal furness of the kitchen gnome) who mistakes me for the sofa and
    3. Diana Krall purring slightly louder than the Right Honorable Furstick.

    I may not be able to move for hours. Yet oddly, this doesn’t bother me.

    Link: Not only has de Lint published dozens of novels, but he also plays folk music and he writes poetry. He has some like Coyote about the Trickster, realities and perceptions and mulling, in The Endicott Studio Journal of Mythic Arts, a journal devoted to keeping folk stories and myths alive.

    Poetry Prompt: OneWord has come up with an exquisite corpse take on timed poetry prompts at POetc. If you like that Language is a Virus has loads of links to similar language games.

    About a Book: Naked Brain about body-thought connection. Fascinating summary. Really want the book more now.

    Quote: “Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein More on him at QB. He’s a pretty smart guy. He also said “A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.” and “Never stay up on the barren heights of cleverness, but come down into the green valleys of silliness.”

    Craft Link: Make a sock doggie, or bunny or monkey.

    Architecture Link: William Beaver Experience has models of rooms including the foyer entryway that passes under a glass floored jacuzzi. Now that’s a first impression. So does a building site where the models populating designs are Japanese-style, occasionally risque, drawings.

    Glad Game: That car alarm parked below will stop at some point within the day.

    Got a few more cards in the mail.

    Alternating between words and silence, without either pressing or riding me too hard. How pleasant to pause and wave away anything.

    Shuffled some furniture about and pottered out and around.

    Saw a man at the mall with a soft bounce to his step in pale brown leather, head-to-toe, fringed from his cowboy hat, jacket, chaps to boots. Not a modest fringe but more than a handspan in length. It sure made me grin. His face was neutral but I must have made a sound to smile and he crinkled a deep eye smile at me and sauntered on along.
    (ahhhh. car alarm silenced)

    The vets’ office was festive with lights and cards and flowers and even a couple comical paintings that must have been Christmas gifts. it’s the most Christmassy place I’ve seen this season in fact. And the staff there are always so cheerful.

    Think we’ll go a trip to home depot to get a door stopper to get out of the house.

    Soundtrack: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Holding Out for a Hero, and yet nothing can knock Hey Mickey out of my head for long.

    It’s in your head now? (bow) You’re welcome. 😉

    27 Dec 2006, 12:05pm

    Glad Game

    Glad Game: We’re home and have no place to go. No marks to hit.

    The shortened gift list and the target and cap on $20 per person agreed on seems to have been an improvement all around.

    Got to meet my 2.5-year-old niece (a blur of constant motion and giggling questions) and my 9-month old nephew who discovered he can propel himself by crawling this week.

    Improved some behind the scenes layout to WP so with a different color for control panel here and at Eaten Up I can tell at a glance, which one I’m at.

    There are some homemade cookies about.

    How to Remodel a Man by W. Bruce Cameron is sort of like Dave Barry comedy of escalating ludicrous exaggeration such as two neighbours competing to buy more powerful leaf blowers.

    “Vermont nut cream” chocolates really shouldn’t look at renaming themselves. lol. (Except in mixed company perhaps.)

    Time keeps hurling forwards and I wouldn’t have it any other way, even with the shocks it entails. Got pictures in the mail of some cousins. Visited some. Saw one cousin. [My goodness what a difference age 12 to 14 makes(!). She could pass for legal drinking age now.]

    Poetry Link: Renku How-To has more of the details on the traditional structure of linked haiku chains.

    How to Market Your Book: Marketing Tips for Poetry Books according to WordTech Publishers.

    Song Link: Always wanted to improve your voice? Vocal instruction CDs, DVDS, resources might be fun to dig through.

    Blog Link: When it starts like this, you just know…

    I had heared some time ago that peanut butter was good for your skin, mayo was good for the hair and cucumber is good for the eyes. I decided to make an affair of it. I procured said items and proceded to strip down bare. I covered myself head to toe with peanut butter… [More]

    Animation Link: Have anyone you would like to emphatically thank? Thank you animation is cuter than cute.

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