I often ask audience members to describe what genuine dialogue feels like. Here’s some of what I hear:
“Give and take.”
“Paying attention to what each other says.”
“Learning from each other.”
… and many more like that.
Genuine dialogue is a necessary component of a relationship-building encounter. (Check out my free ebook, Encounters, for more information on relationship-building encounters.) But, so many of our conversations aren’t true dialogue. They are either monologue or monologue disguised as dialogue.
Try this: (I’ve been doing it, and it’s been very interesting.) Pay attention to every conversation you are in, noting where it falls on a continuum from monologue to genuine dialogue. If a conversation falls short of genuine dialogue, ask yourself, “Why?” Did the other person talk without really listening to you? Did you not exactly answer what the other person said, but force-fit your answer into a topic area that you wanted to insert into the conversation? Were you really talking to each other, or, were you each really just talking to yourselves?
Pay attention. Share your observations in comments here. How many of your conversations each day are genuine dialogue? What conditions or situations make genuine dialogue easier, and which make it harder? How are outcomes influenced by the presence, or lack thereof, of genuine dialogue? How does dialogue contribute to relationship-building encounters?