THE EDITOR, Sir:
If Jamaica is to become a phoenix rising from its current socio-economic quagmire, then there would be need for a more responsive and humane system of governance. Governance is understood as the manner of addressing and organizing the people’s business. However, responsive governance relies on consensus building, and consensus building depends on the quality of conversation among stakeholders.
The approach to governance in Jamaica is likened to a dog chasing its own tail. For decades, the singular and partisan method of dealing with the nation’s business has failed us. For example, both major political parties from the 1970s have singly tried to deal with violent crimes and the results keep getting worse. We are desperately bawling for consensus building.
Consensus for nation building, however, relies on conversational intelligence. Let me utilize insights on Conversational Intelligence® (C-IQ) to shed light on what Jamaica urgently needs. According to the Creating WE Institute, “Conversational Intelligence® . . .enables us to navigate successfully with others. . . we learn to build trust, to bond, to grow, and to build partnerships with each other to create and transform our societies.”
The institute discusses three levels of conversation. Level I is called “transactional conversation” which is distinguished by the exchange of information. It is an I-centred conversation in which the participants simply exchange information to validate what they know. Level II conversation is called “positional conversation.” The participants at this level of conversation attempt to persuade and influence others to agree with their point of view. Level III conversation is called “transformational conversation.” At this level participants aim to discover what they don’t know. It’s a “Share-Discover” dynamic. It’s a WE-centered conversation. The mindset of participants is to “hold a neutral space to explore uncharted territory. Ask questions for which we have no answers and listen to connect.”
If we are to be convinced that the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a “personal hero” of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, then the Prime Minister needs to adopt a chapter from Tutu’s Level III “transformational conversation” as demonstrated in his leadership of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa. The best New Year’s gift that Andrew Holness can give Jamaica is not just a re-shuffling of the Cabinet, but the re-start of the Vale Royal talks, and not simply for photo opportunities. Fundamental to these talks, however, is the willingness of every participant to first learn the values, attitudes, and skills of “transformational conversation” as a way of building consensus towards nation building.
Rev. Fr. Donald Chambers, JP