Admit it. You are one of us.
Months into 2018 and we are all rethinking the long list of “opportunities for improvement” that we set for ourselves for the year. Life from the comfort of a sun lounger looks far less complicated than life without a tall-drink-with-a-little-umbrella. That is why we start slipping. Yet we do it every year. Isn’t it a better idea to skip the list altogether and concentrate on only one thing that really makes a difference?
What that one thing is might seem like a tough one to figure out, until you start thinking about it. We all have brilliant ideas that will change the world, but unless we can get others fired up to pour their energy into it, nothing much will happen. We all have best intentions, but unless we know how to correctly articulate it, we are often misunderstood. We have all said things in jest, just to suffer the consequences. So, should proper communication not be our top single resolution?
What is it about communication that is so difficult? In a nutshell – opposing views. We are constantly trying to defend a position, or recruiting followers for it. We are in fact in debate most of the time, instead of in communication. And that is a vulnerable position to be in. That is why it often goes wrong.
An alternative to being in debate, is being in dialogue. Both are ways of communicating different perspectives. But here as some key differences:
- A debate can accommodate two opposing views. A dialogue can accommodate more than two opposing views.
- A debate is set up to square off two very different views against each other and ends with a winner and a loser. A dialogue, on the other hand, gives opportunity for a view to be shared and completely understood before moving on to the next view, because all parties take the time to ask questions for clarification. This process of hearing and exploring a point of view aims to find common ground, rather than confrontation. With dialogue there is no winner. It is about finding consensus, about learning, about walking in the opponents shoes for minute. Multiple perspectives and various choices can be incorporated for a richer end result.
- A debate always has a loser who will come back for a rematch, metaphorically speaking. Dialogue brings buy-in because everyone was heard, and everyone is part of the solution.
When it comes to the merits of a second slice of chocolate cake, a debate with oneself is probably the better choice. But when it comes to complex issues and human emotions, dialogue is the better choice.
Therefore, note to self: New Year’s Resolution – learn to dialogue.
There shouldn’t be any debate on that.
If effective communication, managing change or dealing with opposing points of view that are making a cohesive strategy impossible, talk to us. That is what we do. We specialise in constructing change that is effective, sustainable and supported by the whole team. Contact us.