Straight Talk: start a dialogue to understand differences


It’s not a word we often hear these days.

Yet it’s one of the most effective communication tools to gain understanding and to build relationships.

Want to understand the reason for a client’s decision?

Want to know why your boss is handling a situation a certain way?

Want to figure out why a colleague has a different opinion than you about strategy for a project?

Then sit down together and have a dialogue. When you view an issue differently than someone else or you don’t understand the individual’s perspective, having an open-minded dialogue can help both of you achieve a common understanding. Moreover, it’s enjoyable, it’s easy and it’s rewarding.

If you don’t know how to dialogue effectively or have forgotten how, here are a few tips.

The goal of a dialogue is simply to understand the other person’s viewpoint –  not to persuade them to your way of thinking.

One individual talks, presenting his or her point of view.

The other person listens, without interrupting or asking questions, with the aim of learning and understanding.

Then it’s the listener’s turn to talk. Again, the aim is simply to explain your own standpoint –  not to defend it or to argue against the other person’s opinion.

By the end of the dialogue you should share a deeper understanding of each other’s opinions, ideas or issues.

A nonjudgmental dialogue promotes mutual understanding, reducing misunderstanding and conflict and strengthening relationships.

So what do you say? Isn’t it time for a meaningful dialogue?

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