Dialogue in the Dark is an interesting experience where visitors are facilitated and guided by visually impaired guides in absolute darkness. You experience first-hand what it is like to live for a short while in complete darkness and go about your daily chores and activities. Normal daily routines, such as having a cup of tea, take on a different perspective and a reversal of role is created where the sighted participants loose one of their main senses and the visually impaired guides are the ones who do the leading.
Recently I took part in one such workshop, involving utter darkness for two-and-a-half hours. Sitting at tables, groups had to accomplish various tasks. As there were no clues gained from our eyes, we had to listen carefully and fully to each other. Everything slowed down and there emerged a kind of ‘democratic’ listening platform where everyone was included and all input was needed for the task. We could have no pre-conceived ideas about someone’s ideas as we did not know what they looked like and so could not visually judge them.
There were chuckles when we realised mistakes as we tried to describe tasks and complete challenges, and knew we had made mistakes in understanding what someone may have been trying to say.
In the middle of the workshop, it occurred to me that this is how we should really do mediation – in the dark, literally, rather than metaphorically. Listening would improve, courtesy would improve, and an openness would naturally arise, based on the set task – to resolve matters and create a better future. The parties could then literally and metaphorically, emerge into the daylight.
For more information on Dialogue in the Dark, see https://www.dialogue-in-the-dark.com/
UK and Irish accredited workplace mediator, investigator, trainer and coach with particular expertise in the field of neutral evaluation. Brendan undertakes work in Ireland and in all parts of the UK including Northern Ireland.