Without Dialogue and The Spontaneity That Happens When Dialogue Takes Place, What Do We Have When Participating in a Lecture?

We see, we film, and we also hear. It is also likely that some understanding of what is seen and heard may be happening. But without the invitation and opportunity for spontaneity between presenter and student to exist, how is the audience to ask questions, make comments, or express an opinion? If the chance to interact when needed is being denied, what and who is being served? Might this be felt as abusive by those who may already have issues with inappropriately used power? How can this lack of interaction facilitate relationships, and how can any teacher see this as unimportant?

Learning from a knowledgeable teacher is a gift and, ideally, where dialogue happens. Too many teachers are unaware that their power must be exercised as a beneficial source in their roles as moderator, teacher, and presenter. Deferring a student’s ability to ask questions or comment when they need to be made is the worst possible teaching situation I can imagine.
Consider that when teachers and students pay strict attention to each other, respect exists in the space between them. They become equals in the give and take of the moment. They listen, seek to understand, and are candid in response. The result is learning or the best opportunity to learn, which becomes the teacher’s finest gift to the student.

In my opinion, students have little opportunity to learn in an environment that limits itself to presentation alone. A lecture usually doesn’t allow any questions, comments, or opinions until a specific time. In a teaching environment, this can only restrict the learning potential. Students experience this restriction and the thoughts and feelings that come with it in one way or another. Will a learning experience of this type help us become more ourselves and more an individual contributor? Sy

Recognize myself————-My need to know and to grow————-It is why I ask.  

Do not back off, you—————Express what is inside you————–Be you not another.

Speaking The Truth & Only The Truth

How do I know the truth? I know it through experience. I know it through “being there, seeing it, swimming in it.” In other words, not my imagination, something I read or have someone tell me what they believe is true to them. Truth is truth and not what we want or wish something to be. Truth demands courage and must be expressed in its naked form and not dressed up so that it comes across as opinion. 

The problems associated with “truth” are many and why it is difficult and challenging to be truthful. One basic reason is that truth as an individual knows it to be may not be what others want to hear or accept. It is why I have often written and lectured on the subject of “genuine dialogue.” Genuine Dialogue demands a true listening and understanding of what a person is saying. Agreement is not an imperative, not asked for, but understanding what one is saying is. So where is the truth? The person speaking may believe that what they say is the truth, but back their words up with speculation, hearsay, (what others have told them), or what they have read. In other words, the speaker wants the listener to believe that what they say is the truth and, more importantly, they want the listener to agree with them. If agreement is what a speaker expects, they need to be prepared for non-agreement and accept that this may not be the case in the listening or in the response.

In too many cases when people are in conversation, they have an expectation that they are being heard, understood, and possibly agreed with. Likely, none of this is the case. In this day and time, the amount of immediate information is mind-boggling. Just click your cell-phone and the information one seeks is instantly available.  Is truth guaranteed or is it just information? In fact, does listening between us really happen or are we just physically present but our mind somewhere else? How often do we witness people in a restaurant sitting at the same table, but each with their cell phones at their fingertips? So, what is the truth of our relationships? Dysfunctional is my truth. It is what I witness all too frequently.  Sy 

I see you, but hear?—————Maybe yes and maybe no—————Do we care which one?

My rambling thoughts, Haiku style!

Writing my outlet———–Speaking used to be my style————–I found another way.

Getting old happens———-No avoiding it taking place————-What do you do then?

Challenge is a gift———push yourself to do it now———–Waiting is for what?

The world is changing———-but so are we and lucky———-Opportunity.

Exercise today———–tomorrow is its own day—————–If it comes to you.

Be here, be now too————-another time might come———-Maybe yes or no.

Dialogue is rare—————–When it happens enjoy it————-you may learn something?

Walk and breathe deep———-enjoy the day and what comes———–and does it matter?

I enjoy my life————-mostly I enjoy my wife———–she is why I live.

Her smile lights me up————just being with her is all————I ask nothing more.

Time is so precious————waste not one moment or day————–be all you can be.

There is more to say————-When I do it just comes out————–No plan, no intent.

Cal it “happening” —————no pressure to do anytime—————just feeling, it comes.

Hope you enjoy one or two.   Sy

New Book Announcement

Available on the Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback

Navigating Leadership is a powerful and concise overview of the basic skills you’ll need to successfully motivate those you work with. Leadership expert, Sy Ogulnick, has assembled all the fundamentals of effective leadership into a short course that is an essential handbook for anyone who aspires to lead or manage others.

Sy is a nationally known consultant, author, and lecturer on the art of improving relationships in the work environment. He has conducted workshops on revolutionizing the workplace for many major US corporations, and shared his valuable insights in dozens of interviews on radio and television talk shows.

Being Born Unique—A Blessing Or??????

Yes, we are each born unique to a degree, but growing into what self we each are, is never easy—and perhaps the equivalent of climbing Mt Everest? Why I think this is so is what I will attempt to share in this paper.

Institutions including religious, political, educational, and organizations of every kind create the mechanisms necessary to make our becoming what they want us to become; and even family has its picture of what their members are or will become. It is rare to find environments and systems created by people that support maximizing a self’s uniqueness. In fact, it may be impossible to find systems that support the true growth of a self that at the same time seeds and nurtures respect, regard, and responsibility for others. And here I mean all others. Is this not what the Biblical words “love thy neighbor as thy self” mean?  Do these words qualify the neighbor? I do not think so.

When I began to write my book about six years ago, I decided that I needed to know “what kind of leader I was.” Much too late to do anything about what took place seventy years back, yet I still felt I needed to know. The answers I got back made me feel good, but perplexed. At that time, I was completely unaware of any deliberate effort on my part to teach respect and regard for the children they worked with and with each other. But I was this to them and this is what they were with each other and children.  Why? I never asked, but I was this to them and did not know.

Years later when I began working with professionals and entrepreneurs, I became a serious student of leadership, power, and relationships. I was also more aware of myself. I knew my responsibility as a self and therefore to assist leaders in the absolute necessity of being themselves, whatever that meant to them. As this evolved so did the leaders, doing all they could in helping others be more themselves. Growth was reciprocal; in that all of “us” benefitted from an environment that fed BEING. It was why all that participated took what they were experiencing at work home with them. After-all it was each of them being themselves.   Next: Of what we do which activity is most oneself?  Sy

The Importance of Agreement and Non-agreement In Our Relationships with Others

Relationships are essential to life. It brings us together; forming family, friendships, the creation of organizations, cities, states, and countries. In the process of establishing relationships, we communicate—and this communication does much to bring us together. In fact, without communication, how would we come and be together?  This paper is about the issue of AGREEMENT & DISAGREEMENT THAT EXIST BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS AND COUNTRIES.


When this is achieved, the conditions as described above switch to the listener, who now becomes the speaker. Note that the process has nothing to do with agreement unless this is understood by the parties.  Expecting agreement without asking for it upfront is a “quagmire.” Stating the need for agreement at the beginning of dialogue is the better choice but is still problematic. It may be an impossible request(?).

In today’s world, we see this played out in families and between dear friends, co-workers, associates, and certainly within organizations and nations. This is a difficulty that challenges the best of relationships, and I offer no easy answer. Religion, politics, child-rearing, and education are examples of issues that often bring conflict and even pain when and where people talk. It is why I mention the “kitchen table” where implantation of beliefs and conflict is most likely to take place. The problem is that expectations are buried in opinion and not fact.

During true dialogue, there is no leader and no follower for that moment. Clearly, that presents a challenge to most leaders accustomed to being in charge and those followers accustomed to acceding to the demands of the leader. To experience dialogue is rare for these reasons, and yet it is essential if people are to be “real” and “honest” with each other. So much is missed in our relationships when dialogue is avoided and monologue takes the stage.


The Benefits of Living in A Community Where Social Interaction Is A Daily Occurrence

Each evening we go to dinner and enjoy a meal with other residents. Either we are invited to join two other people, or we invite two people to join us. It is here at the dinner table each evening that we enjoy a wonderful few hour of conversation and the sharing of histories. Everyone has a story to tell, so sharing a table makes the telling of tales possible. 

The beauty of this is that we get to know each other. A bit of history, what we did for a living, where we grew up and bits about family. It is an enlightening experience to often be with people that have lived and continue to live interesting lives. Of course, this is not always the case, but the chance to meet interesting people is there and dining together is an easy way for this to happen.

It is also the case that some residents remain apart from the social opportunities. They may have family living within the area and spend their time with them. Their lives are lived apart from other residents and although family and friends are especially important the chance to make new friends at the trails end is no small thing. All of us need relationships beyond family and old friends if we are to continue to grow instead of just getting old. 

Growing old is an “attitude” as well as a “fact” As a “fact” what is there to discuss? As an “attitude” it is worthy of books upon books and discussion. Those that are old and give in to waiting for their last breath are to be pitied for a condition none can avoid. Those of us that continue to mix with others and, if able, read, write, and continue to exercise creativity are wise and thrive.

Life, whether limited by old age or other factors ought not be wasted. Opportunity to learn and to give back is restricted by our own behavior. A wonderful example took place a few nights ago.  We joined two others at a dinner table without reservations. Usually, people arrange being together over dinner in advance, but now and then we allow serendipity to do its thing.  We joined a lovely lady we have had dinner with many times and a gentleman we have not met before. 

As usual, it turned out to be full of wonderful dialogue between us and a lesson in history led by the gentleman. He is a new resident of our senior complex. We will find out more about him in the coming days, but during this first dinner together we discovered that he was born and lived his youth in Tennessee, worked in Washington in government and had something to do in later years with a University in Atlanta.

In any case, our conversation took us to the problems and division of our country today. He led the conversation and his knowledge of the subjects we discussed was impressive. Interestingly, he continues to write and research on the subjects we discussed. Two hours engaged and time flew by. We can hardly wait to continue being involved in an education experience. 

Need I express the importance of what accidentally took place, and does almost every day? We are surrounded by people with a variety of life experiences. All have a story to tell and will if given the opportunity which has to include people interested in learning and sharing.  Sy

Life offers so much————pay attention and receive————to learn is a gift.

Bureaucracy And System

I watched the interview of Prince Harry and Meghan and it stirred up some concerns of mine that I have had for many years.  Those are the issues of “bureaucracy” and the visible and invisible barriers created by “bureaucracies.”

I openly share that when I personally or my organizations bumped into “bureaucracy,” I backed off. In other words, my being ruled and restricted by administrators or systems never sat well with me.  When it happened (and I am sure it did) I walked away if I could. If not (school; jobs I had as a kid, military service, etc.), I did what had to be done to the best of my abilities but made little noise and stayed in the shadows. Being myself and following my own tune is apparently deep-seated in me.

Interestingly, I remember reading that Confucius (the father of bureaucracy in China) had constant trouble with bureaucracies wherever he tried to influence leaders. This is also true of Plato when he was invited to be with Pericles, the leader of Athens. How often has this occurred that bureaucracy created to manage systems also attempts to controls all that live within its invisible walls? 

I see this as a non-problem for most people since we are born into systems. We call this our family and remain in a variety of systems throughout our lives. Lenette and I created organizations, and as leaders, we think and hope we dealt with our employees as individuals and not as part of a “system.” Yes, all organizations have rules; some are stifling and others flexible. And yet, I wonder now whether we did or did not create systems and walls? It is long past that time, but those who were there would remember and know. Systems may be ubiquitous so avoiding them may be impossible.  

It is why I believe most people may not understand Prince Harry and Meghan.  Prince Harry was born and raised within the Royal Bureaucracy. This is what he has experienced, and this is what he knows. Without question, what his wife has gone through is so powerful an experience that they are both deeply scarred by what transpired and can never again be without scar tissue.   

The creation of “systems” may be inevitable, and I suggest that “bureaucracy “may be necessary to serve the system and the people within it, but bureaucracy ought not to rule. I reacted against powers that sought to control me. Being responsible for my own actions “was right for me.” I have experienced and know that degrees of responsibility are what most people can handle. I also know that there are those that avoid any responsibilities. So be it. We need to recognize and accept the differences amongst people and respect what a person chooses for themselves and how they live their own life. 

Living under the control of professional administrators is what some people are born into and learn to expect they will be cared for throughout their lives. They become accustomed to the structure and security provided by the system.  When care and controls are expected but denied there must be a terrible sense of helplessness if one lives within the system. It takes courage to live one’s own life and be fully responsible for oneself. Some of us would have it no other way.  Sy

 I am born helpless————-In time I become able————-Freedom to be me.  

If I am cared for—————–For how long and in what ways? ———-Knowing essential.

Fact, Fiction, Opinion & Expectation

The differences between each of the title words are significant and complex. 

If I personally experience an event this is Fact to me; participation not hearsay or opinion. That is, “I was physically there, I saw and heard firsthand.” On the other hand, if I express what I think and what I feel, but have not personally experienced an event I express only my OpinionFiction is false, a made up story, but often designed as if true and Fact. Knowing the difference and responding appropriately to Fact, Opinion or Fiction is never easy. Seeking hard data to support what is said and heard is not a simple process. One must search for hard proof. Saying it is so does not make it so.

Examples abound around most “Kitchen Tables” where much talk takes place and where separating Fact, Fiction and Opinion is often next to impossible and why I include Expectation in the title. Expectation is usually below the surface, but plays a big role in communication. Often the Expectation is that “I win you over to what I say is true.” Here is where Opinion and Fiction becomes one and turning Fiction into Fact is what the speaker wants the listener to buy into.

The dialogue experience may be the only way we are able to communicate with each other if a speaker believes so strongly in what they say even if what they say comes only from hearsay or what they have read. In other words, what many people believe as true is not based on Fact, which must be actual, but sources that say “what I say is actual.” This most serious problem with communication is more common today than ever due to social media and the technology that so easily makes Fiction appear as Fact.  

It used to be that most people communicated their Opinion to each other and they would say so, but this is becoming rare between us. It is why I suggest asking questions: Is this your experience? Were you there? If told, how reliable is your source? Fact demands irrefutable proof, and we are each responsible for separating FACT from FICTION. This mountain is getting harder to climb.   Sy

    Our world is changing—-Must we also change with it?—-Maybe, maybe not.

Free Speech and Speaking Your Mind

A dear friend (former camper) sent me a book that he believes makes the case that “free speech” is fighting for its life in our country. It’s written by a conservative professor and is about the professor’s frustration relative to his desire to express his opinion on a variety of issues. And, of course, he makes the case that freedom of speech is being taken from him and others like him. The professor also argues that he is denied the right to express “truths” by the institution he teaches at. He goes further writing that universities throughout the country are responsible for shutting down “free speech” in the class room.

I have no fault with his passion for free speech and how he argues for it. Frankly, I am in agreement with him when it comes to being able to express one’s opinion. After-all, what is “genuine dialogue?” It is the highest level of conversation that people can have. It is where mutual respect lives, people are seriously present, listen to what is said, work to understand what is said, and are totally honest in their response. Agreement either happens or it does not and this is acceptable. Also, are facts necessary in most conversations, or is it opinions that rule? 

What this professor misses in his argument is that when powerful people speak their words are too often taken as fact. Unless facts are backed up by absolute provable data, not the power and influence of the speaker, how do we know what is said is true? A problem for many is this: that certain people possess the power or credentials and followers, for some reason, believe every word they utter. How can anyone accept words as fact unless the words are backed up by hard proof? “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Opinion is what most people have and this is commonly based on what one hears– reads and personal experience. If facts are called for we need to ask the question: “what are the facts that support what you say?” I know it’s raining outside because I can see it, feel it and possibly even smell it. That’s fact! But if someone tells me “I heard it’s raining outside?” Maybe yes and maybe no? Knowing the difference between what is fact and what is opinion is essential to almost everything we say to each other. The question: Is one’s Free Speech based on facts or is it opinion? Fact is irrefutable, opinion is always arguable.   Sy