Learning to Dialogue LO10124

John Paul Fullerton (jpf@mail.myriad.net)
Sun, 22 Sep 1996 14:44:15 +0000

Replying to LO10090 --

Chau Nguyen said the following about dialogue and discussion.
I've edited the order of the comments for my response.

> Actually, when you have an issue or problem to deal with, it's not
> dialogue.

> 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.

It would at least have the kind of focus of what is everyone saying. Of
course, directional comments such as "what's being said has nothing to do
with the focus of this meeting" does not sound like dialogue. On the other
hand, it is possible and probably necessary to have boundaries for
dialogue. I know that someone could think "Oh, no", but I have an
imagination of purposive hurt and intimidation that could not be allowed
to "reign" if everyone were going to be heard or if peace and joy were
hoped for.

> 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.

When I saw Dr. Senge's description of dialogue and then William Isaac's
more particular description, it seemed to me that there could be business
uses of dialogue. For example, I think that I've seen that through
interpersonal friction increased hearing has resulted (not that friction
is created with a purpose in mind). It seems like the process of dialogue
would bring into everyone's hearing differences that could otherwise
result in friction.

Also, dialogue allows the expert viewpoint to become knowledge held in
common. For example, if a team were working on a programming project, and
one or some of the team members had successful knowledge about
object-oriented techniques, their knowledge could be shared with other
members of the team, if there was a culture of hearing.

> 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).

This is a Useful observation. I did not see this during earlier
conversations about silence in dialogues.

If a technique is being "used on me", then it may involve the assumption
that I don't know what's going on. If I do not, then I'm not really a part
(perhaps); if I do know what's going on, then it seems (to me) that isn't
good treatment. At the same time, I CAN be given a work command and be
expected to do it. (That's not the same thing as using techniques on a
listener to get them to do in a context where commands or authoritative
requests could not be thought to work.) Another comment - even so, if
someone will only work through sequences of wrappers (such as the use of
"techniques), maybe using those techniques would be loving the person.

> I believe that dialogue is neither a science nor an art, it's just a
> way of being, it is the wiring in the machine that held all the
> parts together, so that the machine can function.

Yet I could imagine a helpful book called "The Art and Science of
Dialogue: Understanding Others and Working Together for Benefit".

> 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.

I understand that this is a description of Your neighborhood practice;
however, if it is related to the idea of dialogue itself, what assumptions
make purpose and concern irrelevant? I am a man, but if I were a woman
(for example) and wanted my husband to listen to what I'm saying (from now
on, please :) I think that dialogue could make known to him my needs and
how being married relates to this service. He could make known to me that
talk about my bridge game sounds exactly like the background noise in the
office that he has learned to shut out. I could make known to him that I
just want him to know about me and have kind observations that impart
strength. Well, better not go too far :)

Without insistence and with the ability to inquire into others thoughts
(rather than only advocating my wants), it seems like dialogue could be
used for business purposes (by a people with ability to do so).

Thank You for Your comments, experience, and participation from a
co-respondent :)

Have a nice day
John Paul Fullerton


"John Paul Fullerton" <jpf@mail.myriad.net>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>