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Principles and Practice of Dialogue

The following notes come, with my own adaptations, from [Sue Miller Hurst]'s workshop, Dec-96. One of my earliest experiences with a teacher teaching practice explicitly. This page has three sections: (1) Principles, (2) Practice Disciplines, (3) Reflections.

Listening as the fundamental revolution... beyond learning, dialogue, learning organization, etc... safe to care about the whole, safe to listen (to others, the whole)

Principles of Dialogue

Applications of Dialogue Practice

Some Beginning Questions (from Sue)

also, from richard bach: where were you born? where are you going? where have you been? ...ask these every so often and watch the answers change

What is Dialogue

krishnamurti... seeing and action are same thing... no action is no seeing... when we really see poverty, the chair on fire, anything else... action is immediate... we know what to do... when we truly see then action arises.

Guidelines for Dialogue

  1. sit in a circle... leaderless, leaderfull
  2. speak to the center of the circle... make it real for everyone, rather than one-to-one across the circle
  3. listen with respect... looking again, looking anew
  4. watch the periphery... pay attention... do some things i do keep others from getting in?
  5. practice disciplines
  6. agenda-less, leaderless
  7. create a safe container... what is undiscussable? be the other to society

A Snapshot: From Fear to Security

  1. armed conflict => verbal conflict... attacking persons => fear
  2. argument => discussion... attacking ideas, name calling, still aiming to win
  3. generative conversation... to know more about subject itself
  4. dialogue... to know more about you through the topic
  5. metalogue... to know about us and how we are => security

the "soft stuff" is really hardest... what is harder, to build the house or to cultivate responsibility for it? and what more valuable?

The Texture of Dialogue

Why Dialogue?

who says so? indiginous peoples... oneness. david bohm, krishnamurti... thought, social therapy. martin buber, carl rogers, scott peck... listening, community, not fix people but learn from them. chris argyris, what's undiscussable? korzybski, the map is not the territory. heidegger... linguistics. glick et al... quantum chaos. senge, miller hurst, MIT... organizational learning.

Key Distinctions

Disciplines of Dialogue Practice


Suspend Certainty

Hold the Space for Difference

Slow Down the Inquiry

Speak from Awareness

Reflections and Quotations

Key Points Remembered

Quotes about Dialogue and Listening

Thus the task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought, about that which everybody sees. --Schopenhauer

We do not know very often what we say. If we want to listen to the still, small voice that is always speaking within us, it will not be heard if we continually speak. --Mahatma Gandhi

We are faced with a breakdown of general social order and human values that threatens stability throughout the world. --David Bohm

I am suggesting that the very means by which we try to solve our problems is the problem. The source of our problems is within the structure of thought itself. --David Bohm

The only way out is through. --Goethe

Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it's the only one you have. --Emile Chartier

Listening is a rare happening among human beings. Listening is a primitive act of love in which a person gives himself to another's word making himself accessible and vulnerable to that word. --William Springfield

All things and all people, so to speak, call on us with small or loud voices. They want us to listen, they want us to understand their intrinsic claims, their justice of being... but we can give it only through the love that listens. --Paul Tillich

The intelligent man who is proud of his intelligence is like the condemned man who is proud of his large cell. --Simone Weil

If you can only see what everyone else can see... you are not just a representative of your culture... your are a victim of it. --Daniel Quinn? Ishmael?

Our past is not our potential.

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Last edited March 28, 2021 9:04 pm CentralTimeUSA by MichaelHerman
© 1998-2020 Michael Herman and, unless signed by another author or organization. Please do not reprint or distribute for commercial purposes without permission and full attribution, including web address and this copyright notice. Permission has always been granted gladly to those who contact me and say something about themselves, their work, and their use of these materials. Thank you and good luck! - Michael