What is dialogue and why use it?

Dialogue means “through words”.  What we refer to  as “dialogue” is a defined set of communication patterns that help people move through issues.  These patterns are different than those used in debate (talking at each other), polite discussion (talking with each other while avoiding the hard issues), or deliberation (weighing defined options together in order to reach a decision).  Dialogue is more than “just talk”.  At the most general level, dialogue is a form of interaction in which people of different backgrounds with different experiences can share their thoughts and be heard in an environment of mutual respect.  Why use it?  It works! Well planned dialogue can build the foundation of mutual understanding and trust that is needed to help our communities work through difficult issues.

In this blog we explore the importance of dialogue and also the challenges it presents.  Good dialogue takes focus, effort, careful planning, and perseverance.  Good dialogue also pays off as it produces wiser, more sustainable decisions while minimizing the costs of conflict.  If you are interested in learning more about dialogue, explore the many posts and resources on this blog, or give us a call!

6 responses to “What is dialogue and why use it?

  1. An example of what can happen when there is a lack of dialogue appears in a very interesting front page article in the September 23 New York Times. It deals with the rash of recall campaigns that have been carried out in the last two years against public officials in various places, including Kansas City. These recall campaigns are the antithesis of dialogue. In themselves, they can’t achieve any positive improvement in a civic problem even if the recall is successful, and they are likely to make any solution more difficult. What actually happened in Kansas City? Was dialogue tried? If so, why didn’t it work? If not, is there a way that dialogue could have been brought into the process?

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