One inevitably leads to the other, or should…
Mark is fighting his corner well. Back and forth goes the debate. Mark concedes little. He comes away with most of what he wants. All are tired out and the other side have doubts about engaging with him again. Even now, no-one really understands the whole problem.
John seeks joint learning about an issue. All contribute from their knowledge and experience without taking positions. John insists that all make their assumptions explicit. He leads by example. A mutual understanding of the problem develops. New solutions emerge. John comes away with a little less than Mark in the short run, but the long term result is much greater.
In the jargon of organizational learning, mediation and other fields, Mark is engaged in “discussion” and John is in “dialogue.” With complex problems, dialogue stands the best chance of finding a good solution. The clarity that results is also vital to organizational learning.
So far, so familiar maybe. You probably advocate dialogue yourself.
But here’s the thing…
When we say we want a dialogue about an issue, have we realized that means opening the door to our own change and growth? After all, if the point of dialogue is learning (which it is), then chances are, we’re going to be doing some of the learning, including about our own selves maybe.
If not, are the others going to do all the learning and all the changing? That implies we’re already complete. That’s not likely, surely. In truth, it implies we’re still wedded to our position.
We could make progress by looking to our own learning.
Does dialogue lead to change and growth in your experience? How open to that are you, when you say you want a dialogue?