What is Dialogue

All too often our talk fails us. Instead of creating something new, we polarise and fight. Particularly under conditions where the stakes are high and differences abound, we tend to harden into positions that we defend by advocacy. To advocate is to speak for your point of view. Usually people do this unilaterally, without making room for others.
But Dialogue is an altogether different way of talking together. Generally we think of Dialogue as “better conversation”. But there is much more to it. Dialogue, as I define it, is a conversation with a center, not sides. It is a way of taking the energy or our differences and channeling it toward something that has never been created before. It lifts us out of polarization and into common sense, and is thereby a means for accessing the intelligence and co-ordinated power of groups of people.
Bill Issacs, Dialogue

The meaning of Dialogue

In Greek:
Dia means ‘through’, Logos means ‘word’

Dialogue is a ‘flow of meaning’ – but it is more than that. Logos originally meant ‘to gather together’ and may be best rendered as ‘relationship’. Dialogue is therefore a conversation in which people think together in relationship.

The Four Practices of Dialogue

  1. Listening
  2. Respecting
  3. Curiosity
  4. Voicing

Dialogue does not call for us to fix things or change people! It asks us to listen for an already existing wholeness and to create a new kind of association in which we listen deeply to all the views that people may express. It asks that we create a quality of listening and attention that can include – but is larger than – any single view.

The Paradox of Dialogue

Dialogue is both something we already know how to do [the tradition can be traced back to the talking circles of Native Americans or the market place of ancient Greece, and beyond that to the tribal rituals of many indigenous peoples]


something about which there is much to learn [this heritage has led many people to romanticise and simplify the practice, instead of stimulating an enquiry into what prevents people from talking well]

Who developed Dialogue?

The Dialogue process is a form of conversation that has been practised since humans first began to talk and think together

How can I learn more?

Dialogue by Bill Isaacs