Learning to Dialogue LO10211

John Paul Fullerton (jpf@mail.myriad.net)
Fri, 27 Sep 1996 22:27:37 +0000

Replying to LO10146 --

> I think I may be missing something about dialogue. My understanding was
> that good dialogue needed people to *balance* advocacy and inquiry. I
> have seen a couple of postings recently which seemed to say that we should
> inquire more than advocating... what is the theory behind that and how
> does it help dialogue?

Julie's comment is exactly right. Without advocacy, there might not even
be anything to inquire about!

My experience with the conversation on the learning organization list is
that there is much more advocacy than inquiry (particularly inquiry into
views that are not shared), and when there is disagreement (time for
inquiry), there seems to be almost no inquiry. Because advocacy is
generally present, inquiry seems to be the part to be requested. That's
just my reasoning (and assumptions) - not necessarily accurate and not
reprimanding, either :)

On the other hand, we often hear comments like "what did you mean when you
said" or "help me here". Those statements could be counted (literally) as
inquiry, though they don't "resound" to me as the kind of inquiry that
I've heard about. That inquiry responds to an incomplete or incompletely
expressed idea with respect, appreciation, and the request to hear more.
It seems to work in an instance when the fault of understanding is not the
hearer's, yet it doesn't fault the speaker. It responds to a view that is
not its own with allowance for changing one's own mind if the other view
is better. It allows the other view, in many cases, to abide and continue
without disproof. (Sounds like the Apostle Paul's description of love :)
One action of learning new information through inquiry could be saying,
"Oh, I see what You mean!" And it seems like we (the group) don't often go
through whatever is necessary (in conversation) to get to that

That is why "inquiry" has been highlighted in what I've said about

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/>