“You do not have conversation to get work done. The conversation is the work.”
Dialogue is more than conversation. You could think of dialogue as an open discussion where there are no winners or losers, right or wrong answers. As a pattern language, dialogue is an essential element of high functioning groups and organizations.
The twists and turns of dialogue itself help bring the subject matter to light. A real, open conversation requires participants to actually devote themselves to understanding the issue and not simply to “scoring points” or “defending” a position.
“A key difference between a dialogue and an ordinary discussion is that, within the latter people usually hold relatively fixed positions and argue in favor of their views as they try to convince others to change. At best this may produce agreement or compromise, but it does not give rise to anything creative.”
Dialogue requires patience, and a commitment to the process rather than the outcome.
“What is essential here is the presence of the spirit of dialogue, which is in short, the ability to hold many points of view in suspension, along with a primary interest in the creation of common meaning.”
There is not one right way of facilitating dialogue. It can happen with two people or hundreds, in five minutes or over the course of five years. Participation must be invited and protected. The participants need to believe that their contributions are important, regardless of title, role, or experience.
“Remember, always, that everything you know, and everything everyone knows, is only a model. Get your model out there where it can be viewed. Invite others to challenge your assumptions and add their own.”
The process of sharing perspectives, listening, and being in the process together helps move groups and organizations towards shared dimensions of purpose and at the same time builds trust.
“Truth is not born nor is it to be found inside the head of an individual person, it is born between people collectively searching for truth, in the process of their dialogic interaction.”
Insights, metaphors, and frameworks can emerge that may suggest new ways of seeing the subject matter, or new conceptual vocabularies can be hammered out that will help move a discussion onto new ground.
“Deep, adequate views of things . . . can be worked out only in conversation.”
Canopy Gap works with clients to use dialogue as a means to building purpose, trust, and flow throughout your organization’s ecosystem. Contact us to learn more.