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Dialogue: The Art Of Thinking Together

1 rating: 5.0
A book by William Isaacs

Modern conversation is a lot like nuclear physics, argues William Isaacs. Lots of atoms zoom around, many of which just rush past each other. But others collide, creating friction. Even if our atomic conversations don't turn contentious, they often just … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: William Isaacs
Publisher: Crown Business
1 review about Dialogue: The Art Of Thinking Together

Interactive Humanity

  • Feb 15, 2000
Rating:
+5
Dialogue

According to the subtitle, Isaacs provides "a pioneering approach to communicating in business and in life." This he does with insight and eloquence. There is a great need for what this book provides, especially now as organizations are (finally) beginning to appreciate the importance of supporting (indeed nourishing) the personal as well as the professional development of their "human capital" The word "dialogue" denotes conversation between two or more persons. Moreover, the original meaning of the word "conversation" is to turn around, to transform; later, the word's meaning evolved to "living, dwelling, and associating with others." Today, most of us think of conversation as "talk." Some of us think of it as a "lost art." Isaacs obviously has both words clearly in mind as he introduces his "pioneering approach." His purpose is to explain HOW effective dialogue, dialogue which is "about a shared inquiry, a way of thinking and reflecting together", can increase and enhance human dignity and understanding. How important is face-to-face communication? My own opinion is that it is more important now than ever before. However, again my opinion, the quality of face-to-face communication has rapidly deteriorated in this age of high-speed electronic "connectivity."

Isaacs' book is organized into five "Parts": What Is Dialogue; Building Capacity for New Behavior (ie listening, respecting, suspending, and voicing); Predictive Intuition; Architecture of the Invisible; and Widening the Circle. several For me, one of the most important of Isaacs' themes is so obvious, so simple: Show your respect for others by listening carefully to what they say. Dialogue worthy of the name is based on mutual respect. Hence the importance of attitude. Dialogue worthy of the name requires mastery of certain skills which can be taught. Isaacs provides all manner of practical suggestions as to HOW (a) to establish the proper attitude within any organization and (b) to strengthen the specific skills needed to sustain that attitude.

Near the end of his brilliant book, Isaacs observes: "Dialogue enables a `free flow of meaning,' which has the potential of transforming the power relationships among the people concerned. As this free flow emerges, it becomes quite apparent that no one person owns this flow and that no one can legislate it. People can learn to embody it, and in a sense serve it. This is perhaps the most significant shift possible in dialogue: that power is no longer the province of a person in a role, or any single individual, but at the level of alignment an individual or group has with Life itself." If the comments expressed in this brief excerpt speak to your own needs and/or the needs of your organization, you don't need my endorsement. You already know what to do: Buy the book.

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