What is Dialogue?

What is Dialogue?Dialogue is a special kind of discourse that enables people with different perspectives and worldviews to work together to:

  • Dispel mistrust and create a climate of good faith
  • Break through negative stereotypes
  • Shift the focus from transactions to relationships, creating community
  • Make participants more sympathetic to one another even when they disagree
  • Prepare the ground for negotiation or decision making on emotion-laden issues
  • Expand the number of people committed to decisions on challenging issues

To explain dialogue we contrast it with debate, a more common form of discourse. Both are essential in decision-making, but they have different purposes. Debate is about winning; dialogue is about learning.

Assuming that others have a piece of the answer Assuming there is one right answer – and you have it
Collaborative: looking for common understanding Combative: Attempting to prove the other side wrong
About finding common ground About winning
Listening to understand and find basis for agreement Listening to find flaws and make counter-arguments
Bringing up your assumptions for inspection and discussion Defending your assumptions
Discovering new possibilities and opportunities Seeking an outcome that agrees with your position

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