The Value and Power of Dialogue
Courtesy of June Anderson, Breakthrough Coaching, Inc.
Organizations are living human systems. Human beings have basic needs, some of which are fulfilled through their work.
My Five Basic Needs
I need to be seen.
I need to be heard.
I need to be respected.
I need to be safe.
I need to belong.
When all of my basic needs are met then I’m ready to learn.
This inspirational poem is a beautiful reminder that we human beings share fundamental needs that are often expressed through communication with one another. The implications for engaging in a particular form of communication called dialogue are tremendous. Sharing back and forth through dialogue is the process by which people connect.
Dialogue has its roots in the Greek words dia and logos, which translate to ‘meaning flowing through.”
Dialogue can be defined as the respectful, two-way, open-ended flow of communication that balances listening and speaking for the purpose of learning.
Many organizations have cultures that inhibit people from really connecting on an emotional level. These organizations do not seem to have the spirit, the commitment, and the vitality that high-performing organizations possess.
Conversely, members of high-performing organizations or teams have developed deep, personal bonds with their teammates; these relationships form the context for achieving high performance.
Other terms of communication such as, discourse, debate, directing, and discussing, can be characterized as attempts to influence, impress, or control the others. The best you can hope for in these types of communication is compliance, but more often they disintegrate into people becoming locked into positions and doing combat with their opponents.
The nature of true dialogue (as opposed to using words as a way of protecting yourself or your position) can be illustrated as follows:
|Using Words to Protect||Using Dialogue to Learn|
|Listening to argue||Listening to understand|
|Pointing out faults||Clarifying with questions|
|Manipulating and controlling others||Respecting, valuing, and partnering with others|
|Proving one’s ‘rightness’||Proving one’s commitment to learning|
|Locking into positions||Truthfully sharing points of view and being willing to change them|
|Changing others||Supporting others|
|Protecting and defending||Disclosing and being open|