Let’s celebrate dialogue:
- Dialogue is collaborative: two or more sides work together towards common understanding. Debate is oppositional: two sides oppose each other and attempt to prove each other wrong.
- In dialogue finding common ground is the goal. In debate winning is the goal.
- In dialogue one listens to the other side in order to understand, find meaning, and find agreement. In debate one listens to the other side in order to find flaws and to counter its arguments.
- Dialogue enlarges and possibly changes a participant’s point of view. Debate affirms a participant’s own point of view.
- Dialogue reveals assumptions for re- evaluation. Debate defends assumptions as truth.
- Dialogue causes introspection into one’s own position. Debate causes critique of the other’s position.
- Dialogue opens the possibility of reaching a better solution than any of the original solutions. Debate defends one’s own positions as the best solution and excludes other solutions.
- Dialogue creates an open- minded attitude – an openness to being wrong and an openness to change. Debate creates a closed- minded attitude, a determination to be right.
- Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one’s beliefs and assumptions. Debate calls for investing wholeheartedly in one’s beliefs.
- In dialogue one searches for basic agreements. In debate one searches for differences.
- Dialogue involves a real concern for the other person/s and seeks neither to alienate nor to offend. Debate involves a countering of the other position without focusing on feelings or relationship and often belittles or deprecates the other person.
- Dialogue assumes that many people have pieces of the answer and that together they can put them into a workable solution. Debate assumes that there is a right answer and that someone has it.
Toward eupan ~
~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.
Developed from Bohm, 1996, by Frank Boulton and excerpted here from Contemporary Conflict Resolution: The prevention, management and transformation of deadly conflicts. Third Edition Oliver Ramsbotham, Tom Woodhouse and Hugh Miall.