The Languages of Kegan and Lahey

An explanation of Kegan’s and Lahey’s method of discovering the underlying beliefs in a person’s actions.

The paper uses an example of a work-related complaint to show how Kegan and Lahey would reword the complaint using a four-step process in order to expose the assumptions and underlying beliefs of the person lodging the complaint and, thereby, finding a solution to the problem. The paper then describes the process of critical thinking and relates it to Kegan and Lahey’s exercize. The writer then uses Kegan and Lahey’s approach to prepare a lesson plan for a Lamaze class.
The first step in Kegan and Lahey’s (1994) process of language awakening resides in considering a complaint and transforming it to a language of commitment. For instance, a staff member of an institution might consider his work environment creatively stifling. In this theory, the authors suggest using a sentence stem such as I am committed to the value and importance of____ to rearrange this complaint into a language of commitment, such as I am committed to the value and importance of a professional environment that fosters the capacity for creativity. This necessary first step brings to the participant a conscious recognition of possible problems by establishing a sought-after ideal.