Discussion – Trying to get someone to agree with your perspective. You talk. I talk. You talk. I talk. Etc…
Debate – Trying to “win” the conversation. I’m only listening to what you are saying in order to form a response to negate what you are saying.
Dialogue – We talk. I listen. You listen. We understand.
Nancy had a lot to say about the differences between discussion, debate, and dialogue. Based on some of her descriptions, and those she provided from various theorecists, I now have a better understanding about why I enjoy some conversations so much more than others. I can also see why some conversations have not been as productive as others, even though I was very open and ready to receive. In order to be heard, you have to listen. In order to do this, you must disclose and trust. (Smith and Berg would have a lot to say about those two!) What really blew my mind was when she talked about the conversations we have at work – how unauthentic and closed they are. How much more productive and engaged could a workforce be if there was enough trust for everyone to be open and authentic in all of their conversations? Usually, the “open, honest, and authentic” conversations only happen around the water cooler or during an offsite lunch. In the end, both the individual employees and the organization as a whole suffer.
To progress, to consult flawlessly, to be of help, we must be open and authentic.