New Civilization News: Dialogue    
 Dialogue7 comments
1 May 2004 @ 04:42, by Robert Oveson

The last couple of weeks I've been encountering the dialogue word in a number of unrelated places. It isn't like this is a new term for me and that once I had learned it then I started to notice that it was around. This was like it was in my face and demanding this was a concept that needed attention.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned in a forum that we needed to have less debate and more dialogue since debate was by definition a conflict situation. I think that debate is an obstacle to understanding rather than a means to clarify understanding. In a debate a person is a contestant, and they enter the competition with a clearly defined position which much be defended and where every point conceded distances you further from winning. A debate is not about learning, it's an intellectual pissing contest at best, and a popularity contest at worst (which imho is why debating on somebody else's turf takes courage). Debate can be good mental exercise, it can develop your ability to express a point, and it can be fun in the same way as playing a game of chess. The downside of debate is that the primary objective is to win, and often the easiest way to do that is to make the other person look like they are losing, and learning becomes a pretense for power tripping. (yes, fair game to call me the black kettle dissing the pot) A debate by design, is partisan and controversial.

Dialogue is very similiar but with the subtle difference that neither side knows where the discussion will lead. The people make an effort to learn from each other and there is no loss of face in walking away with a different understanding then when you started. At the same time dialogue is focused, intense and does not shy away from the difficult aspects of the subject, which makes it a little different than social conversation. Maybe the biggest difference between debate and dialogue is that the one is black and white duality, and the other consists of multiple shades of gray.

Then a couple of days after thatthis article said that the net was polarizing political dialogue. They didn't appear to be using the word in the way I defined above, and I'm sure they meant debate. Their recommendation was that people meet at more of a centerist position. However with our current political climate skewed so far to the extreme right a middle of the road comprimise results in a right wing government, and more dangerously ignores the critical root issues and assumptions.

About that same time this link surfaced on Quaker Dialogue and this is sound advice along the lines of respectfull listening.

This site What Is Dialogue provides a concise yet thorough description of the dialogue process and benifits. It starts by comparing dialogue with discussion. Then it lists four skills building blocks: suspension of judgement; assumption identification; listening, the keys to perception; and inquiry and perception. The art of dialogue consists in weaving these building blocks together. Behaviors that support dialogue consist of: suspension of judgement when listening or speaking; respect for differences; role and status suspension; balancing inquiry and advocacy; and focusing on learning.

Since I started following the blogs on this site on a regular basis it looks to me like there is a form of communication between individual blogs that approaches that of dialogue. It will be interesting to watch this develop.


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1 May 2004 @ 05:54 by shawa : Yup.
It happens in the Newslogs section, between certain individual blogs, - and in certain Rooms, too. Some of us are familar with the concept, and have been experimenting. :-)
There are places where it just won´t happen though!...  

14 May 2004 @ 09:13 by spiritseek : Dialogue happening right now!
Of late the dialogue at NCN is becoming a rapid thing. Its a wonderful thing to be happening with a loving heart and a spiritual guiding hand. I'm benefiting from it greatly and truely hope others are as well.  

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