I feel I must apologize (again?) before I even really begin, for many may be starting to wonder if I have learned anything else this semester outside of the concept of Discourse (with a capital D). I also know that Dr. Muth is eager for us to share more about our projects through our blogs before the semester ends; but I am over eager to share a few recent reflections with all of you first. Perhaps I am experiencing what Christine Woodcock would describe as embodied knowing? For as I read chapter 5 of Belfiore, I nearly ran to my computer in an effort to write my thoughts down before the emotion I felt subsided…And I find myself equally as eager, of course, to hear your opinions about them….
As I find myself immersed in the Belfiore team's ethnographies once again, I am struck by the similarities between the reflections in this text and thoughts of my own during the interviews and compilation of this semester's project. But my reference to a possible embodied knowing experience above, came as I read page 213. On this page we find a portion of Sue Folinsbee's accounts regarding Janet, a trainer, with Texco. In this particular example, Folinsbee mentions that Janet is describing a required form and how to fill it out. Folinsbee notes that as the training goes on, the employees seem to visibly relax and the conversation to be more comfortable. A different feel than when they had previously been reviewing documents with unfamiliar and complex language. On the surface, this may not appear to be that much of an 'ah ha' moment; but I immediately wrote the words "use their Discourse" with emphasis next to this particular section due to an experience of my own just a few hours before.
As I sat in my office today, I was distracted slightly as I heard robust laughter coming through the closed door of one of our training rooms. I found myself listening after that, eager to hear what may have caused such excitement in a training session that can usually have a somewhat serious undertone (conflict and management of difficult people). I marveled at the skilled facilitator's ability to relate to his audience and entertain, while still instilling the knowledge and awareness that they sought and perhaps needed. No true 'nuggets' of wisdom floated through the door frame after that, so I soon went back to my work. At the conclusion of the session, I approached the facilitator eager to discover what secrets he may have for me. But as I mentioned to him that it sounded as though it had gone well; he commented that although he felt it had, he had really had to work hard for it. He must have noticed my quizzical look in response, because he went on to explain that his typical jokes and examples had fallen flat with this particular audience at first. He typically had done this type of training with high-level managers with great success; so had not considered the difference he may find with a group outside of that Discourse. After "bringing it down a level" and truly relaxing his style a bit more; the group began to relate more to him, share their stories and the session seemed to go a lot easier overall.
As he described all of this to me, I couldn't help but smile as I considered the stories that I had found within the pages of our text, Reading Work, and various other articles throughout the semester. As I shared the potential word for what he had experienced, he smiled back (feeling justified in his approach perhaps?). We continued a brief discussion about the complexities that we can find sometimes within our own organization. A relatively good sized company made up of such a variety of individuals; a seemingly similar world on the outside, but one with such different needs when one really takes the time to look closely.
As a facilitator, I recognize that I may not always know what the Discourse of my audience may be. And I may not even have the ability to recognize it each time and adapt when needed. But for those times when I find myself among a sea of blank faces, I wonder if I will know now to try a different approach or consider my words more carefully. And will the documents that I produce or be presented with ever be viewed the same way?
Whether I am to simplify or professionalize my language, or to ensure that I use the correct jargon; I appreciate my newest lens and what it can provide for me. For the text on a page is not as flat as the piece of paper it is on; a view my newest Discourse has thankfully granted me.