Never Forget Your Own Worldview

Jayne Docherty

Eastern Mennonite University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: Never forget your own worldview. If there are two parties in the room and you enter, there are now three worldviews in the room. And so you have to constantly be aware of that. And there's a large part of power that has to do with world viewing, so that a third party that comes in whose worldview assumptions are more like one party then the other will inadvertently push the process in favor of that party if they aren't self aware. There is this whole element of self-reflection and self-awareness that has to be a constant part of our work.

Q: How does one become aware of one's own worldview without someone like you?

A: Well, you can become aware of it by training. I think we've got to develop some training to help advance practitioners become more aware of this. We do a lot of it in this program because we are so aware of this worldview stuff. It's really about culture; it's what a lot of people would put under the broad category of culture. I prefer the word worldview and I actually prefer world viewing as opposed to a noun because it's really an activity. It's not like we have this worldview and if we don't like it we take it and we put it on the shelf and pick another one. And another part of it has to do with self-reflection too and becoming very self-reflective practitioners. And we don't always train for that; in fact we hardly ever train for that.

Q: But if you did train for it, what would it look like?

A: If we did train for it, it would probably look like a lot of the trainings that we do now, except we would say, you know, why did you do that? For example let's say there is a mediation training and everybody's doing their role play and you stop it and say the parties said, "Let's bring in granny for this divorce negotiation and let's talk about these issues that didn't come up." How would that have resonated with you? What would you have done? How would you have responded and why? What would your assumptions be about reality? It's hard for me to think about doing this in training, as opposed to doing it in the kind of program that we run here. It's a pretty advanced technique. Although, I've done 2 or 3 shorter trainings where I've simply shown people the forestry example and some other things and then invited them to say, ok, what are the assumptions in your working environment. These have been in organizations, what happens when you change this a little bit? Where do you like them and where don't you like them and where would you push them? It resonates with people and then they become more conscious of it. 

Actually at one point I just did a guest lecture in a biology class that was associated with an environmental public policy program at George Mason University and two weeks later the professor came running across the green yelling at me, I hate you, I hate you and I was like I didn't think my class was that bad! And she said, you know, I was trained as a hard scientist, I thought I was looking at reality and now everywhere I turn I see metaphors and you have shaken my whole world and I hate you for it. And she was half joking.