Welcome to the second post of Journey in Dialog. I plan to post on 36 Thursdays what I think it means for people and groups to relate in dialog. Initially, I define dialog as: An exchange between people and groups in which meaning is shared and change occurs with each party of the dialog.
I draw on pioneers in the advocacy of dialog and on my own history with dialog. We will explore the meaning of dialog and how to do it. We will identify the barriers to the practice of dialog and suggest why dialog is worth the effort. The purpose of this blog is to encourage the practice of dialog.
THAT’S THE DUMBEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD.
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.
SURELY IT IS OBVIOUS TO YOU THAT THIS IS THE WAY.
MY AUTHORITY SAYS YOU ARE MISSING THE MARK.
These are dialog killers. When you get statements like these, it will be challenging to move into dialog.
DIALOG is not the same as conversation. DIALOG is not a form of debate.
DIALOG is a physiological, psychological, and theological thing.
When you’re in a dialog environment, people understand what you mean – you understand what they mean. There is more exploration than argument – more effort to discover than to convince. Each person has a piece of the answer, and each adds value to the discovery.
DIALOG could be for everyone but seems not to be.
In dialog, we communicate with each other in transformational conversation. Dialog shifts us from what Martin Buber called “I-It” relationships, in which we treat one another as objects, toward “I-Thou” relationships, in which we treat one another as persons.[i]
The term dialog stems from the Greek διάλογος. Its roots areδιά (dia: through) and λόγος (logos: speech, reason). When meaning flows through our communication we are in dialog.
We can choose to tell, sell, argue, or debate, or we can choose, when possible, to communicate in dialog. If I am trying to persuade you to see something my way, I am not in dialog. If listening to you, I am thinking of ways to pick apart what you say, I am not in dialog.
Have you ever tried to convey something important to someone, and you couldn’t come up with quite the right words, and the other person responded with words that conveyed exactly what you meant? When that happens, we are on the way to real dialog.
We don’t have to agree with each other. If I understand you, even when I disagree with my understanding of you, I can respect you and even be open to something new that can stretch me. But why bother with all that? Why not just text? Why not just tweet? Why not just tell it like it is and let them take it or leave it?
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[i] Martin Buber, I and Thou, English Translation by Ronald Gregor Smith