Pictures and Conversations

“and what is the use of a book” thought Alice” without pictures or conversations?” ( Lewis Carroll)

Randomly coming across this quote while looking for something pithy about conversations on the web set me thinking about the linkage between pictures and conversations and how this might be effectively used.

Pictures can often be a way of beginning a conversation  and help with the focus. People will respond differently to different pictures and this response can tell you lots about that person and their thinking. The picture attached to this article was one I used when I was involved in some potentially awkward conversations about change processes ….and one where conversations were not happening. Going to see someone to discuss the change, I produced this picture . It was an ideal way of saying what was happening and defused a potentially acrimonious and defensive response .

Equally useful have been the use of Arthur Shelley’s Organizational Zoo cards or the cards from St Luke’s. The pictures, cartoons, diagrams etc on these cards provide a canvass for people to respond, identify thoughts and feelings and start to articulate these. Different people will take on different perspectives from the pictures adding to the richness of the conversation and the exploration of the issues at hand.

There is also an element of safety in using pictures as it enables conversations to take place  from a “one person removed ” perspective . It means that , for example. behaviours and attitudes can be discussed  rather than discussing individuals which can result in blaming behaviour , defensiveness and other negative responses.

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