What is dialogue and what is it not?

What is a dialogue? This is probably one of the questions I am most frequently asked. And rightfully so. My entire work, consulting and leadership philosophy is based on my experience of facilitating dialogue.

It doesn’t even seem like a question. Don’t we all know what a dialogue is? Well, it certainly is not two monologues.

Jeff Daly beautifully captures the essence of dialogue by clarifying what it is not.

And many of us in the course of our daily lives continue to have multiple monologues mistaking them for dialogues.

But if we want to have successful dialogue, we must understand what is a dialogue?

The root of the word dialogue is dialogos (Greek). Dia means ‘through’; logos translates to ‘word’ or ‘meaning’. In essence, a dialogue is a flow of meaning.

Dialogue is the medium through which we connect and understand each other.

So there it is: Dialogue goes beyond the traditional construct of conversation which is speaking and listening. It goes into establishing a flow of meaning.

So the next time you plan to initiate a dialogue or find yourself in the middle of one, make sure it:

  • Is not a collection of monologues
  • Helps you connect and understand
  • Establishes a flow of meaning

Our world of work today needs managers and leaders who go beyond speaking and listening and can intentionally create spaces where collaboration happens through dialogue.

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