During an ordinary meeting, people come to the table with different agendas and different outcomes in mind. Without skillful facilitation, nothing really productive gets done. Remember the times that you’ve witnessed or participated in unproductive debates? Or hierarchical exercises in which one person speaks and everyone else listens?
Dialogue is a method for short circuiting the process. Participants begin by creating collaborative guidelines, such as suspending assumptions, listening deeply, and engaging with others in the spirit of exploration. Some groups add an experiential additional ground rule, encouraging each other to speak from personal experience, as opposed to what they’ve read or heard about from others. This process forms an invisible container and enables the group to engage in a kind of sacred conversation.
But dialogue is only the beginning. Participants transition to the “real world” by reflecting on what’s been learned from the process and how it applies to what’s going on with the group or organization. They then take on the day’s agenda, along with its decisions, take-aways and next steps.
The Dialogue Circle method is flexible.
It can serve as a 10-minute beginning to a regular meeting, a stand-alone team-building event, or as the cornerstone of problem-solving, organization development or community-building initiative.
To learn more about dialogue’s uses, go here.
To learn more about dialogue’s history, go here.
To learn about the originator of the Dialogue Circle method, go here.