I found a copy of the
book The Magic of Dialogue, Transforming Conflict into Cooperation,
by Daniel Yankelovich in my local library, and thought it might be a
good read for this month’s theme of communication. Indeed, while a
rather academic read, this proved to be an interesting discourse on the
lack of ability with the skill of dialogue in today’s society, and the
implications for both the corporate world and the US as a whole.
Mr. Yankelovich opens
his publication with a discussion on the differences between dialogue,
debate and discussion, and presents his thesis that we use far too
little dialogue in addressing the problems we seek to resolve. He points
out that rather than debating issues and attempting to persuade others
to our point of view, dialogue seeks to find common ground between the
parties, and creating a win for all. The very nature of dialogue happens
only after trust has been established between the parties, and any
high-ranking individuals have removed their “badges of authority”.
Genuine dialogue forces us to openly expresses our values, and therefore
exposes us to vulnerabilities if sufficient levels of trust are not
After discussing the
definition and potential use for dialogue, Mr. Yankelovich presents a
list of 15 strategies that can be used to ensure successful dialogue in
any situation. He expounds on each of the strategies, and provides
examples of how they are used, so the reader can better understand how
they can be implemented.
While the latter
portion of the book is dedicated to the discussion of dialogue in public
policy discussions, there are a number of situations and principles that
can directly relate to both business and personal situations. This is a
very well written book, and while not a “light read”, I would recommend
this book for anyone who is interested in better understanding the
strategies for opening opportunities in their organization for better
dialogue. The practical examples provide a good foundation for applying
the principles in any situation.