Discussions on this topic invoked my passion, here are my thoghts:
Dialogue is a LIFELONG CONVERSATION, with your surrounding, with yourself,
with people around you. Dialogue needs the continuity, and time should
not be a factor in dialogue. We put a context in dialogue (we put a
context in everything we touch, don't we. we just can't leave things be),
that is, here we have four hours, let's get the dialogue going so that we
can come to an understanding and agreement or whatever, to the pressing
matter at hand. We walk away with what we think is the result of
dialogue, but in fact, we had a discussion, using fancy tools. Actually,
when you have an issue or problem to deal with, it's not dialogue. If
there is something that more than one person want to talk about, meaning
that at least one has an interest in the outcome, the assumptions and
beliefs have already shaped the outcome.
Dialogue has no deadline, no beginning and no end.
Dialogue does not yield the kind of result that we are looking for in the
business world. You need result, you discuss. You can call it dialogue,
but it's discussion in different format. Dialogue has no focus. Topics
just drift in and out, piece and piece. Given enough time, those pieces
will form a foundation in the community, in the relationship, and it
becomes the culture of that community. There is no reward, no punishment.
Just there, hanging in the air. You can't dialogue with an agenda. You
can't dialogue with two day seminar. Just doesn't work like that. Here is
an example of how dialogue works in my country: people in the
neighborhood dialogue all the time, that's how they build their
neighborhood culture. When you cook a good meal, you tend to invite your
neighbors to come over and share the meal. So you sit around the food,
and you talk about stuffs, what ever comes to mind. Some one just did
this or that, and the event that they discuss has NO THING to do with
THEM, but around that topic, they learn each'other preferences and so
on...because they are talking about things that don't relate to them, they
are free to express their deepest preferences. They express the PRIVATE
self, not the PUBLIC self.
When we have issue or specific thing to discuss, we don't call it
dialogue, we call it discussion, and we get that out of the way, so that
the table is empty before we can dialogue.
Culture requires dialogue, business requires discussion, doesn't matter
how you look at it.
Silence is part of dialogue, but should only be presented unintentionally.
The purpose of dialogue is to seek understanding from the gut level, not
the brain. Reflection is good for many things, but when you reflect, you
tend to alter what you're thinking, and what ever you were going to
communicate, comes out differently (maybe better, but not authentic).
I believe that dialogue is neither a science nor an art, it't just a way
of being, it is the wiring in the machine that held all the parts
together, so that the machine can function. Dialogue in community is the
wiring in the machine, regardless of how you labeled it.
When you dialogue, there is no expectation for result, no agenda. It's
not a session, nor a meeting. It's a voluntarily gathering. Dialogue is
seeking understanding not solution.
phuoc-chau nguyen email@example.com
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <firstname.lastname@example.org> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>