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In the excellent book IsaacsDialogue the author argues that a discussion (dialogue) shows four parts:

According to Isaacs, there needs to be a balance between them. It might probably help wiki discussions to be aware of this functionality (fill the necessary roles temporarily).

Isaacs writes about this is a small section "Kantor's Four Player System" p.192-202 and in some tables in the appendix. Some parts of it:

"Typically, a conversation appears as a hodgepodge of perspectives and sentiments, one voice speaking after another. Sometimes people interrupt or differ. Sometimes they stay silent. And sometimes they agree, supporting what is said and defending the speaker. But it is possible to see more than this in a group conversation."

"David Kantor, through his work as a clinician in the field of family systems therapy, has developed a powerful theory that suggests that conversations reflect innate structures that only partly stem from the individual's needs. They also reflect the unspoken needs of the group and the situation. To Kantor, people take a stance not because they intend to, but because the conversation needs someone to fill the role. By using ... [such models] ... we can become attuned to these hidden imperatives - and we can build an intuitive ability to predict how the conversation "wants" to play out."

"At first glance it seems as if there's no overriding pattern to this: People come with different agendas. But what if there were a way to recognize the structure of conversation ... Kantor's model reveals four fundamentally different kinds of action within a group. These four kinds of action are relatively easily distinguished, and can apply in an enourmous variety of settings."

"When someone makes a move; they are initiating an action. They carry, at least for the moment, the focus of conversation. Another person listening to this initial proposal might agree and want to support what is being said. This person says so and symbolically comes close to the first person. The second person could be said to be following the first. A third person, watching these two agree, may think to him- or herself, There is something not quite right with this picture. He or she steps in and opposes them, challenging what they are saying or proposing. Symbolically, this third person might stand between the first two. Finally, a fourth person, who has been observing the entire situation, and who has the advantage of having one foot in and one foot out of the circumstance, describes from his perspective what he has seen and heard. This person may propose a way of thinking and seeing that expands everyone's vision, and could be called a bystander. he or she adds a valuable dimension in conversation. The term bystander here does not necessarily mean someone who is uninvolved or silent. Bystanders can speak, but they provide perspectiive instead of taking a stand."

"A healthy conversation, argues Kantor, consists of all four of these actions being used in balance. None is left out. And the people in the conversation find themselves free to occupy any of the four positions at any time. ..."

There are a number of conversations analysed, one from the Hollywood movie "Dances With Wolves".

Typical intends and misinterpretations are covered:

Mover intends (sometimes comes across as, opposers hear):

Follower intends (sometimes comes across as, opposers hear):

Opposer intends (sometimes comes across as, opposers hear):

Bystander indends (sometimes comes across as, opposers hear):

From the appendix:

"Without movers, there is no direction. Without followers, there is no completion. Without opposers, there is no correction. Without bystanders, there is no perspective."

From the appendix (new capacities for behaviour):



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