Welcome to the 16th post in our Journey in Dialog. Dialog is about relationships.
“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.” -Tony Robbins
In his Medium Blog, Anthony Moore reminds us of the challenge to have great relationships. “As part of a recent study, the National Science Foundation (NSF) asked 1,500 people how many friends they had that they could talk with about their personal troubles or triumphs. One in four said they had no one to talk with. That number doubled when they took out family members.
“Two thirds of Americans say they’ve lost more than 90% of the friends they had 10 years ago. Many Americans can only claim to have two close friends – maybe less. Most people have mediocre relationships because they can’t be bothered to learn how to communicate.”
Dialog often begins with good questions. As the brain’s neurons move at lightning speeds to make connections with dialog-type questions, new synapses are activated, and something new emerges. The mind loves to discover, and the more it is challenged to do that, the more it seeks to continue that energizing process. Dialog is physiological as well as psychological and theological.
Active listening is a way to help us move from hearing words to an exchange of meaning. We can actively listen doing things like these communication exercises: Share a summary of the words spoken in the speaker’s words or your own; share a word of empathy that indicates you heard what was said; and/or share a comment or question that shows you understood.
It is difficult to listen. We can hear without really listening. We lose interest. Our minds wander. We find ourselves “reacting” to what we hear or to the way that we hear it. We fail to capture the “meaning” of the message.
University professor, Dalton Kehoe, in a lecture on dialog offers ways to ask questions that are more likely to encourage dialog.
• Why did this happen? Try: How did this happen?
• Why did you do that? Try: What did you want to achieve here?
• Why isn’t this working? Try: What can we do to make this work?
• What’s wrong with you? Try: What could we do to help you succeed the next
There are times when why questions are appropriate, but if those types of questions put someone on the defensive, then a different kind of question is more effective for opening and elevating communication that will lead to truth, meaning and understanding – dialog in a nutshell.
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