Promoting Civil Discourse and Peer Learning for Effective Communication

Waupaca, Wisconsin’s public library is set to launch a Civil Discussion Series with the aim of fostering community strength through relationships and understanding. The program will commence by teaching participants civil communication techniques, equipping them with the skills needed to engage in civil discourse while addressing divisive topics that have polarized the country, such as immigration.

This initiative prompted me to reflect on various personality profiles that aid in improving communication and appreciating differences among individuals. Personality tests like DiSC, Myers-Briggs, Kiersey Temperament Sorter, INSIGHT inventory, Neuro-linguistic Programming, True Colors, The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, and The Big Five are just a few examples.

These tests assess personality and behavioral styles, including communication preferences. Those who undergo these assessments gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their interactions with others. They acquire insights into their strengths and challenges, along with recommendations on how to enhance their interpersonal effectiveness.

Individuals or teams receive their personality profiles, enabling them to recognize, value, and communicate more effectively with individuals possessing different personalities and needs. This is undoubtedly beneficial, but the question arises: “What should they do with this newfound awareness?”

While applying this knowledge to their daily work and social lives is expected, it would be even more valuable if the learning could be reinforced in a structured manner, such as through peer learning groups that actively seek out and appreciate diverse perspectives. Such groups would facilitate ongoing learning through constructive and collaborative conversations centered around mutually interesting topics.

Peer learning groups, with a focus on workplace dynamics, also aim to strengthen community through relationships and understanding. The “hard topics” discussed within these groups revolve around the challenges and difficulties managers encounter in their professional lives. The intention behind peer learning groups is to leverage managers’ strengths while providing them with practical and timely solutions to address their specific challenges.

Within these groups, participants can apply their newly acquired knowledge of communication styles and practice without fear of consequences, as they are among their peers. Peer learning groups serve as valuable testing grounds for adopting new behaviors. Ultimately, the goal of such groups is to enable participants to practice and embrace new, more effective behaviors and responses. This approach ensures that civil discourse progresses purposefully towards specific goals rather than leaving it to chance.