Wednesday morning I took part in a writing workshop by Johanna Rothman and Naomi Karten, each authors of multiple books and copious articles. I picked up numerous tips, such as to ask reviewers for specific types of feedback rather than simply requested comments, and to replace verb+adverb combinations (e.g., walked quickly) with a stronger verb (e.g., strode, stumped, hurried). Much of the point though was to write, and write we did, starting with a  three-minutes-to-write-and-forty-five-seconds-to-say introduction. Most of these (mine included) seemed to me to be standard issue. (Probably we weren't warmed up yet.) A while later we had five minutes to write something which used randomly assigned words; my paragraph is posted on my FreelyOffered blog. Our final assignment was to write on whatever subject we desired, timeboxed to fifteen minutes. My contribution to this exercise is posted on my FreelyOffered blog as well.

After each exercise each of us read what we wrote. My writings tended toward humorous; others' were poignant or factual or took on other tones. My writings were vaguely lengthy; others' were longer (how do they write so fast?) or crisp and succinct (such precision and clarity!). I was impressed with everybody's writings and look forward to reading more from my fellow session mates.

Wednesday afternoon I chose Do You See What I Hear?, wherein Don Gray took us through Virginia Satir's Interaction Model. The model is intakemeaningsignificanceresponse, and, as Don says, we go through it even faster. Slowed down it goes like this:

  1. Intake, where we gather objective information from our environment: hand gestures, tone of voice, and so on.
  2. Meaning, where we think about what we took in and decide what it means. (He is grumpy.)
  3. Significance, where we think about the meaning with which we imbued what we observed and determine our feelings about it (I'm angry!) and our feelings about those feelings (And I'm guilty because I'm not supposed to get angry).
  4. Response, where we use our context to filter our potential replies based on whatever rules we might have learned. (I don't know this person so I'd better stay impersonal and distant.)

Once we had the model down we put ourselves into it: one person talked to another person, with the rest of us playing the part of the Interaction Model. When Person A talked to Person B I was Intake. I found it difficult to stay focused on the facts of what was happening rather than running ahead and ascribing Meaning to it. I also had a hard time keeping track of everything Person A was doing: if I focused on his face I lost track of what his arms and hands were doing, if I paid attention to those I missed changes in his face, and how did his voice change again? When Person B replied I was Commenting Rules, and I found processing the many possible responses and reasons not to make them as challenging as objectively observing the Intake had been.

It turns out that different Temperaments utilize the Interaction Model differently. SPs usually run through the entire model quickly without spending much time on any individual step. Details-oriented SJs tend to get stuck gathering Intake data and can struggle to move on to the subsequent steps. (If you want to know what people really said and did, ask an SJ!) NTs often skip Intake altogether and go straight to Meaning, and NFs mostly skip booth and zoom directly to Significance. Both NTs and NFs are more likely to misinterpret actions given all those details they gloss over. Knowing their weak spot can help each Temperament process dialogue more accurately.

Next Don had us working in the Research And Development department of Clown, Inc. inventing new balloon creations. Even though I never did understand the point of this exercise, its relaxed pace was a fun and pleasant way to end the last session of the conference.

Late Wednesday afternoon brought the Conference Closing, where Jerry Weinberg helped us prepare to integrate back into the rest of the world.