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This second wiki is about the importance of the dialogue especially in team work. In order to succeed a team must know how to communicate and this is not as easy as it can seem. Indeed, there are many different conversation types as the:

- Argument that is “Two people taking opposite sides for the purpose of winning, and causing the other person, or an audience, to support their position”

- Debate that is “Two people intentionally taking opposites sides for the purposes of stimulating discussion and thought”

- Dialogue that is “Two people talking to understand each other, and to create shared meaning, often so that solutions to problems will be acceptable to both parties” (Bacal & Associates 2008-2010)

- Discussion that is “Two people supporting their idea and giving their points more strongly until, eventually, others agree with them” (Nichol 2008).

That is why it is important to communicate in a good way so that what you think is well understood by the others.

In this wiki we are going to see :


1/ The different types of communication

Communication is a process in which the information is encoded and delivered by a sender to a receiver via a cannel. It is also a process of exchanging information between two or more people. One person is sender of the information while the other one is a receiver of it.

There are three kinds of communication:

  • The first one is verbal communication and it can be divided into written and oral communication. Oral communication refers to a word in a conversation or dialogue. We must consider that this oral communication can be affected by the speed, clarity or volume of the voice. Written communication refers to a language, and it can be influenced by symbols, vocabulary, grammar or clarity of the language.

  • The second one is non-verbal communication and this includes messages without words. This part is based on body language, postures, facial expressions or speaking through the eyes. According to research, 60% of communication is determined by non-verbal communication, 34% by the tone of voice and 6% by the essence of the words used.

  • The last type of communication is visual communication. This kind of communication is through visual aids. The most common form to present visual communication is by using the radio and the television. This form of communication has emphasised the concept that a visual message with text has a higher power to inform, educate or persuade a person.

Communication is very important in everyday life. It is necessary to emphasize that communication is essential for work and in life generally speeking. If everybody uses it correctly, many of the problems that exist would be solved. That is why in the next part, we are going to see how to dialogue in a good way so that communication can become a real advantage in life.


2/ From a discussion to a dialogue

2.1 Definitions

The word “discussion” comes from the latin “discutere” that means “to argue” (intransitive).
The word “dialogue” comes from the greek “dialogos”. “Dia” means “through” or “with each other” and “logos” means “the word” or “the meaning”.

2.2 Comparison between discussion and dialogue

In an everyday conversation, the two words “discussion” and “dialogue” are often used one for the other. Nevertheless, they have meanings very different. We are going to see that Graeme Nichol gives us the main differences between both terms. Graeme Nichol has been working with growing businesses and took them from a mess of paperwork and programs, to developed processes and refined strategies. He says that “During the discussion you will support your idea and give your points more strongly until, eventually, others agree with you” meanwhile “During dialogue everyone works together contributing towards the idea”. (Nichol 2008).

Below, we are going to explain in a table the main differences between the two opposite way of communication that are discussion and dialgue.

You seek to satisfy your own needs
You seek to satisfy everyone's needs
You find the other's weaknesses
You find the other's strengths
Your goal is to win
Your goal is that erverybody wins
Your are in competition and you look upon the others as an enemy
You are in a colaboration and you look upon the other as a friend
You stop the communication
You open up the communication
You hold on to your position
You ask questions and show that you want to learn
You communicate aggressively
You listen actively, ask questions and inspire a positive attitude
You only want one solution
You want many solutions to the problem
You seek agreement and/or victory
You seek answers from complex issues
You lead the process of communication by yourself
You use a facilitator to lead the process of communication

2.3 What tips can help us develop a dialogue ?

Sylvia Lafair is a woman that wrote many articles. She offers tools and strategies to develop collaborative work. Her articles also offer important techniques for executives to have motivated and fast moving teams. What is interesting to mention in this part is that she gives four ways to practice the art of dialogue. She gives advices that can change your way to lead or participate in meetings. They can also change your way to act in a personal discussion (at home, in a shop...).

The four advices she gives are:
  1. That you should be careful of the words we use. You should not use words as “always” and “never” because they do not lead to communication. They immediately stop the dialogue. They are points of view very strict that do not let the possible apparition of other points of view.
  2. That you should try to adopt another attitude. "If you tend to speak first most of the time, go last." This method will make you think in a different way and say different things. For example, the things you want to say might change when you hear the other one's speek before you.
  3. That you should talk for you and not for all the people in the room. You should try and use the first form 'I", so that when you speek the other one's really know what you think and what are your ideas. You will give more credibility to what you say than if you use "we" or "they".
  4. That you should always be curious about what the other one's think. You should ask more questions and do more assumptions. "Using words like “I wonder” or “I am curious” open a whole new world of possibilities." These words offer new possible subjects to talk about. (Lafair 2009)

To conclude, these tips are very important to develop dialogue in a team work. And that is essential so that the work can be the more successful possible. In the next part we will see more about the importance of dialogue in team work.


3/ Dialogue and team work

3.1 Introduction

The improvement of the team is making easier and more effectively when each members use dialogue regularly and thoughtfully. Different ideas, interests, point of views and beliefs are given faire hearings. Each of these could be mentioned, agreed or extended. This may emphasis their insight, and this is how individuals’ personalities may grow with the team. (roadtopeace 2005)

3.2 How do you get your team to dialogue?

There are 3 conditions needed:
  • Everyone must suspend their assumptions to really see where the truth lies. It is not easy even more when we take them for truth.
  • Team members must think “colleagues” and with equity. If one succeed to do it they will interact as colleagues, feel less vulnerable and less tend to lead the dialogue or to follow it. This task may be difficult in an organization if there is some hierarchical differences between the members of the team.
  • There should be a facilitator. A facilitator can help to do the first condition. He is also important to keep the dialogue continue. When the team will get better at dialogue, there will be a less need for a facilitator.
No questions = no dialogue. If there are questions, the team is interested in the subject, and the dialogue appears. (Nichol 2008)

3.3 Dynamic Roles

There are four distinct roles that people in a dialogue adopt automatically:
  • Move: Make the dialogue go to a certain direction, to give an orientation.
  • Follow: Help the Move by keeping the conversation in the direction and motivate the group.
  • Oppose: Show to the group what cannot be done and give a critical thinking opinion.
  • Bystand: Give to the group a new way of thinking, of seeing the problem and help to make the conversation continue in a new direction.

Those roles are all needed to make the dialogue progress. Roles are not fixing. People change roles depending on where the conversation is. Without a move, there is no directions, without a follow, the group does not move on and is less motivated, without oppositions, there is no critical thinking and without a bystand, the group keeps encountering the opposition and does not find any exit.

When the dialogue does not achieve it is often because the team’s dialogue is stuck in a move-oppose’s cycle which make no progress the discussion.

The picture shows how the four roles work. The whole at the center is the goal. The move starts and the follow helps him. But whatever you have done is blocked when it meets the opposition. When everything has been see, the Bystander suggest a new point of view to make the group progress (David Kantor, unknown year).


3.4 Obstacles

Dialogue is easily stopped. There are many common obstacles that prevent dialogue from emerging in a team work. When you get rid of fears, external constraints, distractions and get a good communication, the dialogue may start.

Fear: Fear blocks the dialogue. Unconsciously we are often afraid to trust others which do not help to create a dialogue. Because of our fears we stand back. Therefore we need to have courage to have the dialogue.

External Constraints: Because dialogue requires autonomy, we need to get rid of those external constraints such as stereotypes, opinions… you may speak with “I” about your experiences and beliefs and not others’.

Distractions: Dialogue requires focus, full and present attention. Reading mails, phones, text messaging, internet, side conversations … will be a lack of attention for you and others.

Poor Communications: Dialogue requires careful, detailed, delicate, and nuanced communications. Cultural differences, jargon, physical distances, poor room acoustics …can prevent dialogue from starting. A private room, with no distractions, sitting comfortably in a circle, where you can hear and see everyone help to communicate. (Beaumont 2005 – 2009)

We have seen in this part the place of dialogue in team work. In the next part, we will see more generally the place of dialogue in working life.


4/ Dialogue in working life

Teams can enter dialogue if everyone knows what is expected of them in advance and if they truly want the results created through dialogue. Dialogue is playful conversation and everyone must be willing to play with new ideas.

Dialogue is the life-blood of your organization, essential for survival and also for the vitality to grow and develop. If you do not discuss with your team you are keeping information from them. That kind of team will not survive. You can say that dialogue is playing together with your team members. Examples of dialogue in a working enviroment are staff meetings, development discussions and everyday team work. The most important part in staff meetings and development discussions between employees and employers is that the employer and the employee discuss. It should not be just about the employer talking to the employee about the future. It should be discussing about the future so both participants achieve agreement.
But how can a manager in an organization help the staff to dialogue? Staff members might be afraid to say what is on their mind and they might not be so enthusiastic about dialogue. The manager should make dialogue possible to the staff and encourage and support. An important part is to let the staff members think by their selves. If the manager tells them what to do and how to do it, it is not dialogue. The staff should also be divided into smaller teams so all the members have enough space to think and let their ideas flow (Vähämäki 2009, 16-17.)

The moat important point in social dialogue is promote unanimity building in the world of work - for example representatives of governments, employers and workers.

Successful dialogue in working life should includes all types of negotiation, consultation or exchange of information between and among these stakeholders. Depends on structures and processes that create the potential to resolve important economic and social issues, good governance, advance social and industrial stability and boost economic progress.

Excellent dialogues produce special results:
  • Internal dialogues for productivity; innovation and strategy
  • Engaging dialogues to motivate all the talent in your organisation
  • Important dialogues with your customers and stakeholders
  • Transforming conflict into creativity through open and honest dialogue


5/ Conclusion

To conclude this wiki, we can say that developing the skills of dialogue is essential for a group of people, and even more for team work. It leads the team to successful work. Dialogue isn't always easy to establish but there are many keys that can help in working life and also in personal life. Dialogue is one of the most important thing in teamwork. People who works together should talk, because it is the easiest way to improve their work.


6/ References

6.1 Books

  • Bohm, D. 1996. On Dialogue. London: Routledge Classics.
  • Lehtonen, J. Kalliol, S. 2008. Dialogue in Working Life Research and Development in Finland. Peter Lang GmbH, Europaischer Verlag der Wissenschaften.

6.2 Websites

  • Bacal & Associates. 2008-2010. Understanding conversations for better communication. Accessed 5.10.2010
  • Beaumont, L. 2005-2009. Dialogue – Thinking together. Accessed 6.10.2010
  • Four types of communication. Accesed 7.10.2010
  • Lafair, S. 2009. Dialogue, 4 keys to real business communication. Accessed 6.10.2010
  • Nichol, G. 2008. Dialogue vs Discussion. Accessed 5.10.2010
  • Roadtopeace. 2005. Dialogue and the Art of thinking together. Accessed 6.10.2010
  • Vähämäki, M. 2009. Dialogi, luottamus ja osaamisen kehittäminen. Accessed 5.10.2010