Yesterday I had a lovely catch-up and conversation with a very special person, who told me about an interesting article she had read about the differences between discussion and dialogue. I did a little googling, and although I am not sure I read the same article, I did find out a bit about this idea. So, without knowing who actually started the conversation or who to credit, I shall share the premise.
A discussion exists when one person goes into the conversation with his or her mind already made up. They have gathered their own thoughts, know their opinion on the matter, and they discuss with the intent to convince the other of their decision.
A dialogue, on the other hand, describes two people talking openly, honestly, and generously â€“ without either having made any decision previously. The purpose of the dialogue is to then organically come to a decision together.
Now most of you know I am a person who likes to talk. I mean, itâ€™s quite apropos I should have an MA in communication. I like being open, getting to know people, sharing thoughts and opinions, and I love the connection that often ensues from real communication. However, hearing about the important distinction between dialoguing and discussing certainly made me think. Do I take part in the latter more than the former?
I am quite sure, in fact I know, I have been in conversations where I am only partially listening, and partially thinking about how I am going to respond. A difference between passive and active listening. Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon? Or are any of us guilty of wanting to be â€˜rightâ€™ in a conversation, and trying to find ways to point out our partner is â€˜wrongâ€™? And even if we think we are listening, are we actually hearing what is being said?
Truly listening can sometimes be quite a courageous act. It means we put our own agenda to the side, and are really open to hearing what is being said to us â€“ without wanting to judge, jump in, defend, or react spontaneously. It requires a certain generosity. An openness. A sprinkle of vulnerability. A willingness to forget our ego and come from a place of love.
Having a discussion with somebody inevitably means someone will win, and someone will lose. Having a dialogue, however, enables a win-win, as both parties are coming to a decision together. Dialoguing allows for discovery, deeper connection, greater understanding, passion and excitement, and love.
So, I challenge us all to have lots of open dialogue this week. We all love to be heard, right? So perhaps we need to start by being generous with our own listening, and reallyÂ hearing, ourselves. Who knows, we may see a whole new side to the important people in our lives…
Have a FAB week, everyone!