Speaking, Listening and Understanding by Heinz Zimmerman

A review and introduction to the book

All human activity, whatever the size of the community-whether in business, the family, schools, or politics-is group activity. Such group activity depends upon the ability of human beings to work together consciously in language. Speaking, Listening, Understanding is a book about group conversations, especially those intended to arrive at decisions and/or insights. Various types of conversations are described. In the process, we learn how individual participants, context, and mood can affect the overall process, Exercises, both group and individual, are provided for different kinds of conversations. Rather than the dynamics of group psychology, however, the author starts from the artistic aspects of conversation: namely, language and consciousness. Using examples and anecdotes drawn from many years of work with groups, Zimmermann shows in a straightforward way what can go wrong and why. Then, through a step-by-step articulation of the processes involved in conversation-speaking, listening, and understanding-he shows what kinds of awareness an practices can strengthen the group processes that facilitate creative conversation. This is a valuable resource for any group or community, and it is directed especially toward Waldorf school communities.

Here is a chapter from the book exploring the stages of conversation

Stages of Conversation Speaking, Listening Understanding, Zimmerman CH 4

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  1. […]  Speaking, Listening and Understanding by Heinz Zimmerman is a book that goes deeply into the art of conversation in groups and how, by bringing new consciousness into our speaking and listening we can transform our work together. […]

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