Have you ever noticed patterns of communication in groups you spend time with?
Are there certain people you feel like you have really productive and enjoyable conversations with? How about the other end of the spectrum; you know when you get into a discussion with a particular group of people that it will inevitably be frustrating or murky?
During Kelvy Bird’s Visual Practice Workshop earlier this year, she shared a model called the Four Players in Conversation, developed by David Kantor. The premise is that in every conversation, people play one of four roles:
Move: to initiate, set direction
Follow: to support and complete an initiative
Oppose: to challenge and correct
Bystand: to witness and offer perspective
Which Player do you tend to embody? What kinds of questions or statements are you making? How is that affecting the group and conversation?
Personally, I tend to gravitate away from the role of the Opposer, but during the workshop someone offered a perspective that fundamentally shifted my negative association with it. They clarified that to Oppose does not necessarily mean to be aggressive or contrary, rather it creates a space for questions and critical thinking if approached in a compassionate way.
As a graphic recorder, this lens is an area I’m stretching myself to leverage more to better support the groups I’m working with. How can what I capture solidify or open the conversation to serve the group and their goals? Which Players are being heard, and which are absent? What does this mean for the group? For the graphic?