Many diverse goals have been articulated for different forms of quality dialogue (or generative conversation). This wiki is an attempt to create a summary of no more than seven closely related goals that most approaches to dialogue hold in common. See what you can do to improve what you read below.



1. ENHANCED RELATIONSHIPS


Through quality dialogue, people come to tolerate, like and appreciate themselves and each other more. They can better hear each other, and so their conflicts resolve more easily. Links are established, bridges built, friendships sprout. Trust grows. People become more willing, able and even eager to be together, work together and engage more energetically in life. There is a sense of fellowship, congeniality, familiarity, collegiality, partnership. Teamwork becomes more fluid and effective. There is enough safety for people to release or transcend emotional reactivity and access authentic emotional responses that nurture relationship.


At its best, good dialogue generates communion, a sense of deeply alive oneness among participants -- a unity that does not degrade people's unique individuality and diversity, but rather often enhances it.


2. BETTER UNDERSTANDING


In quality dialogue, people learn. Individually, they see more fully and think more clearly about the subjects being explored, about each other, and about themselves. Their awareness expands: They move from oversimplifications and unconscious, shallow assumptions to broader, deeper, more nuanced and complex understandings of life. Confusion, ignorance and misunderstanding get cleared up. Collectively, people find shared meaning and more common ground on which to co-exist or work together. They often achieve a greater shared sense of the common good, even beyond themselves as a group. Good dialogue often involves a spirit of shared inquiry, perception, exploration and discovery that inspires names like "co-sensing," "collective intelligence" or "one Big Mind."


At its best, good dialogue is experienced as a flow of shared meaning.


3. MORE POSITIVE POSSIBILITIES


Through quality dialogue, people find new visions, options, resources, energy and allies to improve conditions in their lives. Problems resolve, obstacles are overcome or vanish, opportunities appear, hope rekindles. People want action and see what can be done. They uncover common needs, dreams and directions. Plans and partnerships are forged. Participants become more consciously and effectively co-creative.


At its best, good dialogue promotes a transformative sense of collective agency and being in the creative flow of Life.


4. IMPROVED SKILLS AND CAPACITIES


Through quality dialogue, people become more able and willing to speak and listen well. They can create safety for themselves and others. They more readily recognize, appreciate, demand and contribute to good conversation and group process. Through meaningful conversation people often find they have the ability to do things that seemed impossible before. Good dialog often leads to committed, self-organizing action.


At its best dialogue can help people heal and enhance relationships, stimulate learning and catalyze a sense of positive possibility and coherent action.


5. GREATER GROUP IDENTITY AND OWNERSHIP


Through quality dialogue a stronger sense of "WE" emerges. People feel "we worked through this," "we decided this," "we did this" and, perhaps most importantly, "WE, as a group, community or people, are capable of doing what needs to be done in the future." A sense of collective agency develops -- first in subgroups and caucuses and then in larger groups, out into whole communities and societies.. As dialog progresses and deepens, a sense of a voice from the "whole" can emerge. People can begin to see how their coming together manifests directly. To the extent all participants feel their voices were heard and their creativity engaged in generating the outcomes of dialogue, they will "buy into" those outcomes, owning them and acting on them as part of the group. Furthermore, what happens in a group can, under the right conditions (legitimacy, networking, publicity, etc.) impact larger groups, organizations, networks, communities or countries from which the dialogue group was selected. In this way it can, for example, nurture a sense of "We the People" in a country, or a sense of team spirit in an organization. When this happens, there is a noticeable increase in the quality of people's engagement and presence in dealing with their shared affairs.


At its best, good dialogue evokes a group voice or group mind that participants experience as speaking through them, "a voice in the middle of the room." As with (1), there is no loss of unique individual perspective, just a loss of possessiveness and defensiveness about the content.


6. MANIFEST AND MAINTAIN OUR HUMANITY


Many of us have a sense that dialogue supports some basic human functions that have power, just because it is done, an intrinsically powerful part of our humanity. It may well be that telling stories, dreaming together, talking about how we got here, sharing our hopes and fears for the things we face now, may be things we humans need to do to feed ourselves as human beings and as a culture or society. It is possible that bringing our unique contributions into a collective hearing that values those contributions is a fundamental aspect simultaneously of our healthy individual identity and our healthy community. It is possible that when we do not do these things, we are less able to show up in our full potential and to experience ourselves as fully human, nor to thrive as communities. We become alienated and our human qualities get distorted. Dialogue may provide a tool that meets important human, social and cultural needs and keeps us "firing on all cylinders."


The best dialogue blossoms forth when we are simply and fully ourselves, contributing together on that ground where the highest reaches and the deepest roots of our humanity meet.



NOTE: Every "and" or "or" in the above writeup is actually an "and/or." Dialogue that helps a quiet person speak, for example, or which causes erstwhile enemies to tolerate each other, can be considered successful.



OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO



C O M M E N T S



Here is the original correspondence that resulted in the first posting on this page:


Original Message

From: Juanita Brown [mailto:Juanita@theworldcafe.com] Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 9:33 AM To: Tom Atlee Cc: kenoli Oleari; Subject: Re: Identifying "the goals of quality dialogue"


Hi all...


So, here's a quick thought. What role might the idea of "contribution" have in all of this? As you know one of both the Conversation Cafe and World Cafe design principles is "encourage everyone's contribution". Here's a quote that captures the essence of why this idea might be important to consider and highlight as a part of making it easier to discover the "magic in the middle".


The idea of contribution is especially instructive because it lies in the area that unites the "I" and the "we." We contribute because we are part of something larger than our own lives and efforts, but the form of our contribution is based on our uniqueness and our individuality. *Carol Ochs, Women and Spirituality


Based on that idea from Carol Ochs, I recently tried to clarify in the writing we're doing the different tonality of the idea of contribution from "participation" or "having voice" in accessing collective intelligence-- so here's a little piece as my "contribution"to our conversation.


In that moment, sitting with Patric at our kitchen table I realized, "Aha*.contribution! That*s what*s happening when a Cafe conversation is really "cooking." I began to think of Cafe conversations as being similar to potluck dinners. Contributing your unique dish is what makes a potluck so interesting, fun, and nourishing. It*s always a surprise. If you simply come to participate in or partake of the potluck without bringing your contribution to the party, how can the party happen? In a Cafe conversation, each member bringing his or her unique contribution to the collective potluck of ideas and insights enriches the intelligence of the larger whole.


The philosopher John Dewey, in a poignant reflection more than 50 years ago, pointed to the same belief in the power and potential of collaborative contribution that we now intentionally foster in Cafe conversations. In a 1937 speech, "Democracy as a Way of Life," Dewey commented, "While what we call intelligence can be distributed in unequal amounts, it is the democratic faith that it is sufficiently general so that each individual has something to contribute, whose value can be assessed only as it enters into the final, pooled intelligence constituted by the contributions of all." (I got that one from your website Tom!)


So, the idea in dialogue of, at the outset, helping people feel that they have a unique contribution and that their giving the gift of their contribution is welcomed (even through their silent attentive listening or through making a picture of what they are hearing on the tablecoth if it's a World Cafe dialogue) as something valued that connects the I to the We. There's something subtle, but I think important about this distinction between contribution and simply having a voice.


I'd love other's thoughts on this, and would be happy, Tom, to send you a draft of the chapter on the design principle of "Encouraging Everyone's Contribution" if that can be helpful to the inquiry.


And Kenoli, you had a couple of real gems in your Future Search story that have found their way into the exploration of "emergence" (of the magic in the middle) through the cross-pollination process during a Cafe dialogue.


This is all SO fun! (if I survive the intensity of this period!)


Hugs to you dear friends, Juanita


Tom Atlee wrote:


These are great, Kenoli! And you are right, I want to package them in a way that keeps the number of goals manageable (preferably seven or less, and we haven't heard from the others yet). So here's what I'd do:


-- I think I would change the name of my Goal 4 to INCREASED HUMAN CAPACITY and put my "communication skills" AND your "collective action" skills under that.


- I would put your "possibility emerging" under my MORE POSITIVE POSSIBILITIES.


- I think I would make a new category, as follows, to include your "Ownership and buy-in," "Building a more powerful sense of themselves" and "The voice in the middle of the room":


5. GREATER GROUP IDENTITY AND OWNERSHIP


Through quality dialogue a stronger sense of "WE" emerges. People feel "we worked through this," "we decided this," "we did this" and, perhaps most importantly, "WE, as a group, community or people, are capable of doing what needs to be done in the future." A sense of collective agency develops. To the extent all participants feel their voices were heard and their creativity engaged in generating the outcomes of dialogue, they will "buy into" those outcomes, owning them and acting on them as part of the group. Furthermore, what happens in a group can, under the right conditions (legitimacy, networking, publicity, etc.) impact larger groups, organizations, networks, communities or countries from which the dialogue group was selected. In this way it can, for example, nurture a sense of "We the People" in a country, or a sense of team spirit in an organization. When this happens, there is a noticeable increase in the quality of people's engagement and presence in dealing with their shared affairs. At its best, good dialogue evokes a group voice or group mind that participants experience as speaking through them, "a voice in the middle of the room." As with (1), there is no loss of unique individual perspective, just a loss of possessiveness and defensiveness about the content.


- Then I'd make another new category to include your "mechanism of ritual" item:


6. MANIFEST AND MAINTAIN OUR HUMANITY


Many of us have a sense that dialogue supports some basic human function that has power, just because it is done, an intrinsically powerful part of our humanity. It may well be that telling stories, dreaming together, talking about how we got here, sharing our hopes and fears for the things we face now, may be things we humans need to do to feed ourselves as human beings and as a culture or society. It is possible that when we do not do these things, we are less able to show up in our full potential and to experience ourselves as fully human. We become alienated and our human qualities get distorted. Dialogue may provide a tool that meets important human, social and cultural needs and keeps us "firing on all cylinders." The best dialogue blossoms forth when we are simply and fully together on that ground where the highest reaches and the deepest roots of our humanity meet.


Something like that. It's rich.


Coheartedly, Tom


(Incidentally, Sandy, I've been working with Marc Tognotti out here in SF and he has been filling me in on some of the conversations he has been having with you. Exciting things in the wind! -- Kenoli)


Tom -- My perception is that it also builds the following (You may see some of these as subsets of the items you have identified):


Ownership and buy-in: Through good dialog, people feel included and have a better sense that their participation has shaped the outcome.


Building a more powerful sense of themselves, their stakeholders (or small) group and the larger group they are experiencing through the dialog: As dialog grows between individuals, in small groups and in the larger group, self awareness grows at each of these levels. A deepening sense of "entity" and the identity and possibility that results from that develops. Groups and organizations begin to "show up" in the Angeles Arrien sense of the word.


The voice in the middle of the room: As dialog progresses and deepens, a sense of a voice from the "whole" can emerge. People can begin to see how their coming together manifests directly. Co-Intelligence occurs.


Mechanism of ritual: Many of us have a sense that dialog supports some basic human function that has power, just because it is done. Or perhaps telling stories, dreaming together, talking about how we got here, sharing our hopes and fears for the things we face now, may be things people need to do to feed themselves as human beings and as a culture or society. It is possible that when people do not do these things, they are less able to show up in their full potential; human qualities get distorted. Dialog may provide a tool that meets important human, social and cultural needs and keeps us "firing on all cylinders."


Capacity building: As people conduct meaningful conversation, possibility emerges, including the ability to do things that seemed impossible before.


Action: Good dialog leads to committed, self organizing action.


--Kenoli


Dear Sandy, Kenoli, Rosa, Juanita and Peggy.


I woke up with a simplified "goals of quality dialogue" list and spent most of the morning expanding and articulating it. I'm wondering how you would change it to more accurately reflect your own experience and ideals. You are all specialists in certain dialogue forms, but have a generic sensibility underneath that. I want to access both realms of your understanding. It may take a few reworkings before it is ready for sending to my list, posting on my site and adding to the Wiki being set up on the NCDD site (for further collective re-working).


Thanks ahead of time for letting me know what you think.


Coheartedly,


Tom



The many diverse goals that have been articulated for different forms of quality dialogue (or generative conversation) can be summarized by the following four (closely related) common goals:


1. ENHANCED RELATIONSHIPS


Through quality dialogue, people come to tolerate, like and appreciate themselves and each other more. They can better hear each other, and so conflicts resolve more easily. Links are established, bridges built, friendships sprout. Trust grows. People become more willing, able and even eager to be together, work together and engage more energetically in life. There is a sense of fellowship, congeniality, familiarity, collegiality, partnership. Teamwork becomes more fluid and effective. There is enough safety for people to release or transcend emotional reactivity and access authentic emotional responses that nurture relationship. At its best, good dialogue generates communion, a sense of deeply alive oneness among participants -- a unity that does not degrade people's unique individuality and diversity, but rather often enhances it.


2. BETTER UNDERSTANDING


In quality dialogue, people learn. Individually, they see more fully and think more clearly about the subjects being explored, about each other, and about themselves. Their awareness expands: They move from oversimplifications and unconscious, shallow assumptions to broader, deeper, more nuanced and complex understandings of life. Confusion, ignorance and misunderstanding get cleared up. Collectively, people find shared meaning and more common ground on which to co-exist or work together. They often achieve a greater shared sense of the common good, even beyond themselves as a group. Good dialogue often involves a spirit of shared inquiry, perception, exploration and discovery that inspires names like "co-sensing," "collective intelligence" or "one Big Mind." At its best, good dialogue is experienced as a flow of shared meaning.


3. MORE POSITIVE POSSIBILITIES


Through quality dialogue, people find new visions, options, resources, energy and allies to improve conditions in their lives. Problems resolve, obstacles are overcome or vanish, opportunities appear, hope rekindles. People want action and see what can be done. They uncover common needs, dreams and directions. Plans and partnerships are forged. Participants become more consciously and effectively co-creative. At its best, good dialogue promotes a transformative sense of collective agency and being in the creative flow of Life.


4. IMPROVED COMMUNICATION SKILLS


Through quality dialogue, people become more able and willing to speak and listen well. They can create safety for themselves and others. They more readily recognize, appreciate, demand and contribute to good conversation and group process. At their best, people capable of good dialogue can effortlessly and almost invisibly heal and enhance relationships, stimulate learning and catalyze a sense of positive possibility.


NOTE: Every "and" or "or" in the above writeup is actually an "and/or." Dialogue that helps a quiet person speak, for example, or which causes erstwhile enemies to tolerate each other, can be considered successful.


Two neat links I stumbled on as I explored the web around this question.


http://home.mebtel.net/~kirchoff/Dialogue.htm http://www.interfaithstudies.org/interfaith/race.html Tom, About your #1 Enhanced Relationships... I'd elevate your final comment into primary position. "does not degrade people's individuality or diversity but rather often enhances it." Stated in the positive it could look something like "In quality dialogue peoples' unique individuality and diversity is sought, experessed and consequently enhanced. People come to tolerate, like and appreciate themselves and each other more." I like the direction of this re: Juanita's comments on Contribution and on my resistance to a goal of being "tolerant" as I understood this on first reading. There is an implied progression happening in this paragraph. It is through the means of individuals making their contribution that all the followeing things are happening. Individual contribution is, in Movement Therapy language the "means whereby" all the rest follows. It may be that the dynmics of promoting individual's contributions is more properly located in the "Common Practices" section. (I think that was the name) I didn't see reference to it there however. Does'nt it seem like the goal you're talking about here is the promotion of quality individual contribution and all the rest follows? Doug Freeman

At it's best good dialogue encourages and transforms the unique perspective and divesity of individuals into a sence of union, of deeply alive oneness among participants. Freeman


...............


I like the last set of goals for dialogue written by Tom but not the earlier remark, where Tom suggests that dialogue generates * GREATER GROUP IDENTITY AND OWNERSHIP. Dialogue doesn*t really do this. It doesn't establish a sense of "we," where "we worked through this" or "we decided this," or "we, as a group, community or people are capable of doing what needs to be done in the future." It isn*t about doing and deciding. It*s about talking in a transformational way where shared meaning emerges, where we respect one another and feel more connected to life in general. There is little sense of "we" as a group, empowered to act. Because dialogue doesn*t offer this people transition to "deliberation" for "deciding" and "doing."


The dialogue-like quality of thinking Tom is talking about which establishes group identity and ownership, is what I call "choice-creating." One way to achieve choice-creating ... and the sense of an empowered "we" ... is with Dynamic Facilitation.... Jim Rough


Hi folks. I've been engaged in an exchange of e-mails with someone of a very different social/political perspective. It has lasted over six months, and is now in a phase of exploring what we have accomplished and how. I've been trying to do something like this for quite a while, with little success until now. I feel this type of thing is quite important (we have used no facilitation, no agreement about how to communicate, no focus on a particular topic of special interest), but not sure what it entails or how it fits in with the field in general.


I would say that the two of us have clearly accomplished the first two goals on this list in our dialogue so far. Actually coming to a sufficiently common picture to allow us to "do something", beyond sharing with others what we have done together, seems to be in the periphery of our joint "field", but not the center.


I'm still not clear exactly what has happened, which may be why this comment is a bit vague. So, please make comments or ask questions, which may help me get clearer on what is going on here.


Thanks -- Ken Lebensold


 

 

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see http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:Facilitation where we are also listing similar practices

  --Michel Bauwens (Not signed in).....Sun Jan 31 00:53:33 -0800 2010


The Bohm Dialogue, especially Collective Reflection has significance for me in terms of artistic critique and dialogue.

If one wanted to connect this to Jungian thought I'd relate to that.

  --Srule Brachman (Not signed in).....Mon May 21 17:09:16 +0000 2012

 

 

 

 

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