How to give a more rigorous basis for effects of compassionate communication in politics, economics and organizations

In politics, economics, and organization development theory, it has been traditionally easier to track things like votes and money flow, and because of that mathematical models have been developed of these fields that give it more ‘rigor’. Calculations can be made with these models, and predictions output-ed. This allows people to make presentations where they can spout off projections, and give themselves the idea that they have figured out what is going on.

However these models leave out something very significant, and that is the role of emotions, caring, compassionate communication, and facilitation have on politics, economics, and organizations. Conflicts can throw a wrench in any of these systems, leading them into dysfunctional behavior. And compassionate communication, and various facilitation processes can often ‘unwind’ these conflicts so that the systems function again properly.

Is there a way to model this conflict, and ‘unwindings’? Well one way is to begin by thinking of conflicts as dynamic systems which have become a trapped in a lock-in behavior, where the variables in the system have found an attractor state that is not of the highest fitness level. And to model unwindings as ways of moving the dynamical system out of the not so healthy attractor state, and into a more healthy attractor state.

The system can be thought to be trapped in a lower maximum on a fitness landscape when there is a conflict. When the emotions are unwound then the fitness landscape transforms and the higher potential maximums become possible.

As an example one dynamic system way to model this is with game theory. Lets take the battle of the sexes game where a husband and wife are trying to decide whether to go to opera or the football game. They both get a higher payoff if they decide to do the say thing. If they go to opposite events there is a low payoff. Now if they get into an argument the payoff matrix is lower because they will not so happy even if they go to the same event. However if they use some more compassionate communication process the payoff matrix will not get so low as they engage in discussions. By putting numbers to this matrix we have now the ability to get more ‘rigorous’ output from our models. And because game theory models can be used as the basis for understanding politics, economics, and organizations we can now have a more ‘rigorous’ basis for emotions, and compassionate communication in these fields.

This kind of game theory matrix can be used to model the Palestine-Israeli conflict, and various ethnic and religious conflicts around the world. It can be used to model how people in an organization work together or not. It can be used to model economic transactions where there can be mutual benefits for all sides.

In a conflict, there are needs of both sides that are not being met. And if they are both very angry, they may make moves to try and make life more difficult for the other side. So they make moves in a dynamic system to try and lower the fitness function of the other side. This creates a trap, an unhealthy lock-in attractor. In a facilitation process like Non-Violent Communication, people are able to presence their needs and emotions, and the needs become about themselves, and not the other side. When this happens, the need to make life more difficult for the other side lessens. The fitness landscape then changes. In this case both sides find it ok to make moves that help the other side get its needs met. One can program models that show how this fitness landscape changes. One can show how different facilitation methods like Theory U, Bohmian Dialogue, or NVC shift the attractor states, fitness landscapes, and game theory payoff matrixes.

In the American political system the two party system has gotten into a game where the two parties find it improves their own individual fitness to make things difficult for the other party. Compassionate communicate can shift the payoff matrix, so that both parties work to help the needs of all people get met. Society evolves to a system that will move to higher fitness level when people listen, empathize and help out people no matter what party they belong to.

The vision for  game theoretic and computer modeling of compassionate communication, and needs based worldviews can be profound. One can place into the model a system where there are different needs of each individual, and also the emotional state, and how that affects the shape of the fitness landscape. One can have multiple conflicts in this model, and show how the fitness landscape shifts as different conflicts get resolved, and show how this affects the economics, politics, and running of organizations.

Related posts:

Narratives and ontologies

How to be nice to each other on social media

Humanity is currently in the Interconnected Age. The next stage of human evolution is the Empathically Interconnected Age.

How can that happen? I’ve been pondering for a little while now how we could use social media in a way where people listen and empathize with those who have different views. Is there a way to construct such a system?

It occurred to me two weeks ago that there might be a way to use hashtags for this intention. New issues could get the letters nvc tacked onto the end of the hashtag to indicate a more empathically constructed post. NVC stands for Non-Violent Communication, which are a set of guidelines developed by Marshal Rosenberg for helping us communicate more compassionately with each other. These practices have spread around the world with millions of people practicing them. Here is what the Center for Nonviolent Communication writes “The process of NVC encourages us to focus on what we and others are observing separate from our interpretations and judgments, to connect our thoughts and feelings to underlying human needs/values (e.g. protection, support, love), and to be clear about what we would like towards meeting those needs. These skills give the ability to translate from a language of criticism, blame, and demand into a language of human needs — a language of life that consciously connects us to the universal qualities ‘alive in us’ that sustain and enrich our well being, and focuses our attention on what actions we could take to manifest these qualities.”

The addition of nvc to a hashtag would be a way of denoting more compassionate communicaton. So for instance ‪#‎fergusonnvc‬ would be a tweet about ferguson that is using nvc language. People on both sides of the issue could tweet about the unmet needs of blacks, and of police, and about the emotions that arise as a result. There is the avoidance of judgmental language. Or for instance ‪#‎abortionnvc‬ would be about pro-choice and pro-life people tweeting in a non-judgmental ways so both sides can hear each other.

There can be ‪#‎obamacarenvc‬ , ‪#‎capitalismnvc‬ , ‪#‎climatechangenvc‬ , ‪#‎GMOnvc‬ etc… Studies have shown that tweets and fb posts nowadays are somewhat of an echochamber, it tends to be people who believe the same thing you do who see your messages. This infographic shows how tweets about Ferguson tend to reach out to people with similar views, ‘red’ tweets connect with red viewers, ‘blue’ tweets connect with blue viewers. When red and blue do connect its usually in not nice ways. This hashtag construct is an attempt to bridge the divide.

Our world is faced with such complex, interlinked problems that it will require the multiple diverse demographics sharing each their unique perspective, listening to each other, synthesizing a holistic understanding, and collaboratively emerging a course of action to move us out of them. This can happen through facilitation, through guiding dialogue so that people hear and empathize with each other, rather than stigmatize and insult each other. This can happen through processes that allow people to presence their emotions in safe ways, so that large scale transformation of emotion can occur.

Hashtags are one way to do this. Hashtags are an emergent phenomena, that is grassroots, not imposed from above. They serve as ways of categorizing and as a way for people to find out about different topics to connect. This emergent quality can be used to foster the empathic emergence of human communication across diverse demographics.

Integral economics

Q. What is meant by integral economics?

A. Integral theory is a theory initiated by Ken Wilber, which looks at how the many maps of the human experience integrate into one theory. Integral economics is a way of approaching economics that looks at it through the AQAL , All Quadrants All Levels lens. Meaning there are developmental stages or levels that a society can move through. At each level the society has a way of doing economics, of redistributing resources to where it is needed. And meaning that we look at all four quadrants of economics – the interior individual, the interior collective, the exterior individual, and the exterior collective.

Q. What type of economic systems are there?

A. Some of the more well-known ones are capitalism, communism, and gift economies. There are many variations and hybrids of these basic systems.

Q. What is a stage?

A. Wilber originally looked at stages in terms of individual development. And noted that an individual can be at various levels of development. The place where they are most often at, their center of gravity so to speak, is the stage they are at. In terms of social systems, they too are theorized to exist at various stages.

Q. Is there a connection between individual stages and social stages?

A. In Spiral Dynamics which was a theory invented by Don Beck, it is postulated that when the individuals in a society reach a certain stage of consciousness there is a corresponding social system stage that arises. So there is a correspondence. In Ken Wilber’s integral theory, different lines of development in an individual do not all have to be at the same level so e.g. an individual can be at different moral, emotional, cognitive levels. In the four quadrant model the suggestion is that there is correspondence between the individual and collective.

Q. Is there a relationship between stages and complex systems theory?

A. In complex system there are states of equilibrium, where the system will return to when perturbed. A stage might be described as those places of equilibrium in a complex social system.

Q. How does this apply to economics?

A. Certain economic systems may be unstable at certain stages of development. If you place a collective of people and gave them a set of economic rules they had to follow and they were not able to follow them, then that system is a nonequilibrium state for that collective. If they were able to live with those rules then that is an equilibrium state for the system.

Do you need a boss to know what to do? : Non-hierarchical governance part IV

Its one of the basic assumptions most of us have about work – that we need managers and bosses to make sure everyone does their job, to figure out who does what and when, and to coordinate everyone. The feeling is that if we don’t have a boss we will goof off, that if we don’t have a head to project manage, then it will be a chaotic mess.

But there is arising now in the workplace many examples to show that this seemingly basic assumption is not necessarily one we need to make. There are companies and organizations where the people decide themselves what they want to do. Gore, a company that makes spandex, for instance does not have managers tell people what projects they should work on. Instead people can suggest projects, and also join projects that interest them. Studies have shown that Gore workers are happier, and that the company does better than similar companies who use more normal management methods.

Agile Scrum project management is a process where a list is made of what needs to be done, and people figure out for themselves what to do. Projects are organized in terms of sprints, where a list of things needed to be done by a certain time is made, and everyone self-organizes to do so. Then when that sprint is done, a new sprint is organized with a new list of needs. Over time the teams get better and better at self-organizing, anticipating each other, and figuring out how to help each other.

At festivals like the Rainbow gathering which are free, where people bring food to share with everyone, and where people pitch in to help where they can, there is no often no sign of bosses. Instead what happens is someone may carry around a sign saying they need help cooking at that moment, and someone walking around the festival then dives in and helps out.

Non-hierarchical governance part I

Non-hierarchical governance part II

Non-hierarchical governance part III

How would you bring 300 of the world’s religions together into an organization?

William Swing was wanted to bring the worlds religions together to create more peace, and end religious violence. When he approached the leaders of different religions to come together to create a collaborative organization, none of them wanted to do it. When he talked to the average person in the religion, they were more willing to work with other religions, but they were hesitant about having a leader who was associated with any particular religion. And he was also faced with the problem that when people of different religions get together they often get into big ethical fights.

So what was the solution? He, along with others, guided the collective in a process called Appreciative Inquiry. In this process the participants focus on what the religions could do together, as opposed to focusing on their differences. And they created a non-hierarchical organizational structure based on chaordic principles. 300 religions over a period of 3 years came together to create a charter for what they believed in. Each town, city could organize its own United Religion Initiative chapter, called Cooperation Circles, which were autonomous, self-run, and self-funded. They did not have to answer to an organization above, they only had to follow the rules of the charter. Different circles would come together with neighboring circles to collaborate. There were also larger global gatherings of all the circles. Today there are over 600 Cooperation Circles in over 80 countries of the world, and has done significant work in bridging the different religions.

How to launch viral social cause awareness campaign

1. Create structure that allows for individual participation

2. Use a platform that makes participation visible.

3. Create structure that allows for peer to peer (p2p) participation

4. Coach and hand-hold people (one-on-one) to guide them to participate

5. At a critical mass of participants, and enough energy around peer to peer participation the campaign takes on a life of it own, self-organizing, and going viral.


As an example lets say the idea is to get people to help the homeless by offering the homeless money in return for helping with chores or tasks.

1. The structure for individual participation is that everyone can participate in this by offering money for work.

2. Create a platform where people can share how they did this. So for instance start a facebook group where people can post stories and pics of what they did. Or create a youtube channel where people can film the interaction with the homeless (with the homeless person’s permission). Or create a catchy twitter hashtag like #hiringhomeless for people involved in the project to use.

3. There are levels of p2p (peer-to-peer) interaction. A low level one would be if people retweet each others #hiringhomeless tweet.

A higher level of p2p interaction would be if the campaign could also ask people to partner up with others, to put together their money for a weeks worth of jobs. When people ask others to help them then there is p2p participation.

p2p participation means that the campaign is being spread by the people themselves, the word does not have to come from you the originator of the campaign.

4. Initially one may have to hand-hold and coax people one-on-one to offer homeless money in exchange for chores/work, and then to post to social media about it. One may even writeup the story for them, or help them film it. If the idea is to have people work in groups to help the homeless, for that to come to fruition may require a lot of help from you.

5. Its ok to spend a bit of time coaching people a bit of time at first. It may seem like a large investment. You may have to coach 10 or 15 people to do this. But when you get enough people involved in the project, and they are sharing it with others, the project will start taking off on its own, and you wont have to spend much time at all with people to get them involved

Democracy I and Democracy II

Democracy I is where people argue and try to persuade people to follow their views. People fall into different camps. The camps then go to intellectual and emotional ‘battle’ against each other. Then the people vote.

Democracy II is where people listen emphatically to the needs and views of each other, find common ground, and seek solutions that work for all. Then the people vote.

authors note: After I posted this, I thought Democracy I could be called Divisional Democracy. Divisional II could be called Integrative Democracy.