A Coaching Power Tool By Potsakorn Srisophon, Business Coach, THAILAND
Difference Between Conversation vs. Dialogue
What’s the Story?
Some may say, WWI and WWII would not happen if nation states were engaged in dialogue. During the past few years, I have had a chance to participate in talks including debate and dialogue. Both terms have their own unique meanings and require different communication skills. Dialogue is an essential skill that can participate people to come and think together along with the agenda by accepting the differences in perspective. While the debate has more sense of using logic to elaborate one’s thought and try to overcome arguments that the opponent proposed.
However, both tools require the one and only skill that distinguish a human being from animals which is communication. Communication is an important factor in life. It refers to the process of conveying information, knowledge, experiences, feelings, emotions, and opinions through various true but traditionally spoken languages. People often use different ways of communication as appropriate or the need oneself with the objective of creating mutual awareness and reaction to each other. The effectiveness of the communication mostly bares on 4 essential keys which are intention, selecting words, relationship, and trust.
Each language has different words and the way they define the meaning. A single word in one language for example, “Dialogue”, “Debate”, “Conversation”, “Talks”, or “Discussion” in English can only be translated to just one definition in Thai “การสนทนา” (*which means talk). It is the reason why the use of words in some languages might not cover their original root meaning. Reflecting on myself, I found out that I often have had to spend some time explaining to the people who I interacted with in order to understand my intention of communicating with them whether I want to have a conversation, discuss, debate, or even dialogue.
Conversation vs. Dialogue
Almost all human beings are craving a better future. They try to seek collaboration with others in order to help them reach their desired outcome. The quality of communication becomes very essential here. As a coach, we support our clients by creating effectiveness of communication by inviting them to the process of dialogue where the coach and client can think together about the topic raised by the client.
The conversation is interactive communication between 2 or more people based on their mutual beliefs, agreement, thoughts, or values. The objective of the dialogue is to exchange discussions based on individual circumstances and backgrounds to seek for common points and create a sense of security.
Until recent years, the conversation has been used as the main tool for people in working place to communicate with each other. However, according to today’s business environment where everything is unpredicted, more people is believing that just a conversation, alone, cannot be used as the only communication tool anymore. Since the world was globalized, we are giving more importance to differences between people including experiences, perspectives, mindsets, races, beliefs, and values. We believed that bringing those differences will allow us to cope well with the unknown challenges. But, what is the essential tool for human beings to communicate under those differences effectively?
Dialogue means to create meaning through conversation, and initiate a collective meaning while generating a different quality of connection. Dialogue is a tool for openly talking by accepting differences and giving importance to each of their own beliefs. Even though 2parties have their own intention, the process of dialogue allows them to share their own intention, and views regardless agree or disagreeing with an opponent. Dialogue can also encourage people to revisit their mindset and perspective as well as challenge them to step out of their comfort zone. If people were able to create dialogue, it would allow them to explore beyond the surface and transcend the differences. People usually argue with the disagreements in a debate that involves win or lose, but dialogue aimed for creating new meaning and perspectives together.
Dialogue can also make people get out of their comfort zone because it allows them to interpret new meanings in different things as well as accept the differences with others and allow people to change, look wider, or look deeper. The ultimate influence of dialogue can make people create a desire to work together with new interpretations and new understanding throughout the whole process.
Essential Keywords for Dialogue
- Open talk by accepting differences and giving importance to those in front of you
- Talks that can create new meanings
- Talks where everyone is on an equal stance
- Build on things together
- Thinking together
- Increase better understanding of each other
Questions for Creating Dialogue
- What does it take to be successful?
- Why is it important to you?
- How would you do this differently?
- What do you see for the future?
- What are the success factors for your goal?
- What does teamwork look like to you?
- What is your role model for you?
- What do you want to contribute?
- What do you want to change?
- What value do you bring?
- Why do you believe it so?
- Who do you want to invite to the change and why?
- What is your belief?
- What do you think?
- What do you see yourself doing?
- What do you aware of?
How to Engage in Dialogue?
First, showing the intention of co-creating dialogue is the most important. Both parties need to have awareness as well as mutual understanding about “dialogue” itself. Connectivity with others is another key factor in engaging in dialogue. It starts from oneness and goes to the oneness with curiosity which resulted in selecting topics of dialogue. People tend to have ideas to dominate one another or have egos. It will blind them no the accept and seeing the importance of differentiation from others. Preparing your mindset to accept differences is one of the most important things to prepare for within yourself. Those differences do not have to be right or wrong, the intention of having dialogue should be to find the common ground while building on your opponent’s idea together.
Second, trusting each other is another key essential. Without trust, dialogue cannot be co-created. The dialogue tries to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone by verbalizing it. However, if trust cannot be built between 2 parties by having dialogue, none of the above will be verbalized at all. Creating trust includes showing your intention, your support, as well as your passion for having a dialogue with them.
Communication still remains the most important method for human beings to develop our own individual and society. We still need to communicate and connect with people but having dialogue together will allow this communication to be more effective.
Future Trends is more likely that we are giving more importance to dialogue than conversation. Dialogue opens and accepts all parties’ views without gain or loss. In the professional field, we want to drive ourselves and the organization towards the vision and challenging goals, dialogue can motivate people to come and think together regardless of their rankings, field of work, and education.
Katharina Schmidt. (2019, December 20). 10 Questions for meaningful development dialogues.
Susan E. Brennen. (2010). Conversation and Dialogue.
(2018, October 15). Use Coaching Dialogues as an integrated part of your leadership.