From a group of participants one (short version of this instrument) or more pairs (longer version of this instrument) are formed. Each pair consists of two participants. The pairs will engage in a 90 seconds dialogue. The subject of the dialogue is the subject of the session.
Next, the entire group is asked whether 90 seconds is a short or a long time. Then, the group is asked to stay silent and do nothing during 90 seconds to experience 90 seconds intensively. It will turn out, 90 seconds can be a very long time.
Then, the framework of the dialogue that is about to take place is explained. One participant will ask the other participant about the subject. This is not an interview. The goal is to establish what the two participants have in common and what they do not have in common within 90 seconds. Ten seconds before the end of the 90 seconds the participant asking questions receives a sign by the instructor that it is time to wrap up.
The instruments that are to be used in the dialogue are: intense listening, patience, good will, honesty, respect.
The two participants draw straws – to decide who will ask and who will answer.
The participants are seated on chairs, facing each other. The other participants watch them from the sides in a U shape.
The good practice is based on Emmanuel Levinas’ (Totalité et infini, 1961) assumption that when we open up to another person all external definitions disappear and a transcendent communication remains.
According to Timothy Wilson (Strangers to ourselves, 2002) and Leonard Mlodinow (Sublimal, 2012) our unconsciousness is the gathering place of prejudices. Wilson goes so far as to call the unconsciousness a second personality. In the good practice it is tested how easy or hard it is to overcome prejudices during a dialogue with a stranger in a Levinasian setting.
To measure this, ideally a therapist instructor is present who analyzes the verbal but also the nonverbal communication of the two participants forming a dialogue pair for 90 seconds. In line with Mlodinow f.i. it is assumed that the vast majority of human meaning is constituted by nonverbal communication. The more the participants assume an open posture, engage in eye contact and bow towards each other the more open they are assumed to be. For verbal communication the criteria are: asking open questions rather than closed questions, asking neutral questions rather than leading questions, waiting for the other participant to finish their sentences, answering personally rather than generally, speaking in a thoughtful tone of voice, referring to the words of the other participant – all these are signs of assumed openness. You’ll find a therapeutic scoring card below.
An additional way of assessing the effectiveness of the good practice is by asking participants to self-report.
The aim of the good practice is to show how to start a dialogue on a difficult subject.