Do you get frustrated by those conversations that are like a competition?- no real communication.  Each participant  just trying to score points and ‘win’ the conversation? Try introducing a ‘dialogue’ approach.   Dialogue is  ‘a communication tool that allows people to understand other viewpoints without pitting themselves against different perspectives’.  Bererdo & Lieberman say that this approach is used to generate understanding which can lead to change.

When our communication becomes like a debate – either pushing for our positions or cutting down the other side’s argument, no one is really open to hearing and understanding where the other is coming from. The rules of dialogue are that we each put forward the way we see a situation – no one interrupts, counters, disputes – they just listen. Then when its someone else’s turn, they don’t refer to what we have said, they tell us how they see it.  Of course we don’t have to agree with the way someone else sees it, but when we don’t focus on debating another’s point, we are more likely to get what they are saying, this makes for real communication. The article  at

explains that this approach is good where relations are complex and communication likely to be conflictual. Yes,  Arabs & Jews or miners & environmentalists but also maybe your work team where communication  has degenerated into gossip and backbiting between various factions. If individuals or groups have ‘different perspectives and see issues differently’ try using diaglogue as a effective communication tool ‘to help the parties understand each other’s point of view’. This is what we mediators do when people can’t hear each other. Trying the rules of dialogue might be a first step. Certainly just trying to communicate differently, get out of our old patterns is a step in the right direction. So when you hear yourself going into debate, just pause and listen. communication listening

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