Building on part one of this post, on how dialog is an effective communication tool, the next step will be how to leverage elements of dialog for a better outcome:
A: Make sure that we are conscious of how we react to different situations and to suspend our response by holding off on any judgment, especially without reliable information or just based on our own personal experience.
B: Suspend our decision making until we get all the facts, and not behave on impulse or based on partial or wrong information.
Dialog is great to help understand different sides and to make decisions. Through dialog people feel heard even if the decision isn’t to their liking, it creates less resentment.
C: Listen to the other party, stop talking, create a space in our heads and around us to properly listen, look a person in the eye, open our mind, focus on the person that is talking, their conversation. Effective listening also means that we encourage the other party to speak freely in a non-threatening environment till our turn comes up, then we do the same. Ask open-ended questions not to trap them or to win debates but to find common ground, and finally observe the verbal and non verbal clues.
Keep in mind that we disagree with ideas and not with people; never demonize anyone. We should try to understand why others disagree with us and why they think they are right. Listening carefully to them make them feel that we care about how they think and how they feel.
In the process, we can discover something new about someone and learn from them; dialog helps uncover hidden assumptions that stand in the way of effective communications which may be blocking the way of understanding and bring it up to the surface.
We should only represent ourselves in a dialog and not as a group or as a community, treat others as peers, listen with empathy, acknowledge that we heard and that we care, look for common ground , look for hidden assumptions.
Dialog is about WE, options and solutions. Looking at our past and to the foundation of our nation, we can learn how to move forward, we can agree to disagree.
We can believe what we believe, but we don’t have the right to crowd other people’s space or impose our ways on them, or shove our beliefs down their throats. Realize that we don’t have to agree with each other to respect each other; only then may be hearts will soften to embrace those who are different from us.
We ALL also need to remember that sensitivity and respect travels in both directions and should be practiced by both parties. We don’t have to accept something just because it is politically correct.
Let us open our minds to the magnificent range and convolution of our humanity. I leave you with this quote from Robert Kennedy Jr. that appeared in O Magazine in February of 2007:
“The big threat to America is the way we react to terrorism by throwing away what everybody values about our country–a commitment to human rights. America is a great nation because we are a good nation. When we stop being a good nation, we stop being great.
Diversity starts at home.