Dialogues are conversations that matter. i In dialogue, the intention is not to advocate but to inquire; not to argue but to explore; not to convince but to discover.ii Often, dialogues are facilitated or moderated by a third party, in order to foster mutual recognition, understanding, empathy and trust. Through dialogues, participants who are previously opposed often listen to each other, change their ways or viewpoints, discover shared values and find collaborative pathways which were not perceived earlier. An effective dialogue reduces stereotyping and increases mutual understanding. This willingness for listening and understanding does not mean that they necessarily agree with others’ point of view.
Dialogue […] is a conversation with a center, not sides. It is a way of taking the energy of our differences and channeling it toward something that has never been created before. It lifts us out of polarization and into a greater common sense and is thereby a means for accessing the intelligence and coordinated power of groups of people.
– William Issacs, Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together
As David Bohm, a leading scholar on dialogue vividly describes, the dialogue gives us an image of a river of meaning which flows around and through the participants.The purpose of this form of communication is primarily to understand one another which can lead to addressing the needs of one another and/or the needs of society at large. Dialogue draws people from different factions of an issue and creates the opportunity for exchanging information and perspectives, clarifying viewpoints, and developing solutions to issues of interest to the whole.