1985 | Uncompleted
Sustaining the Quality of Dialogue
in support of richer community knowledge and initiative
- / -
This text is an experiment in dancing with traps and possibilities.
Many are able to articulate rules for dialogue. The trap is that the rules
may only be congenial to the person formulating them. They may be alienating,
arid impositions to others.
And then we ourselves may have to deal with rules formulated very reasonably
by others. It is like being invited to someone's house and having to respond
sensitively to their offerings of food and drink even when they are distasteful.
We might well choose not to return.
Essentially we each bring our own sets of rules to a dialogue situation. Part
of the difficulty is to step outside or beyond them.
These might be considered another -- more dynamic -- way of framing rules.
But the same challenges apply.
This is such -- and as such runs rather similar risks to rules and process
How is the encounter shaped by the intention of each? What quality can we bring
to dialogue and what can we engender through it?
What is the intention in engaging in dialogue? What do we want or expect from
How can the diversity of the dialogue be conserved in the face of tendencies
towards 'monoculture', 'desertification', 'flooding',
or the like?
But if the dialogue floats freely from topic to topic, what indicates when
this is tending into frivolity or lack of focus? And when is this not appropriate?
A tendency to dialogue has embedded in it many of the challenges and opportunities
of life in comunity, or in wider society.
For example, we may seek in dialogue:
- nourishment, because we are hungry
- recognition, because we need identity reinforcement
- appreciation, because we lack self-esteem
- stimulation, because we are bored with our circumstances and worldview
- employment, because we need a sense of acheivement or distraction from familiar
- information, because we are curious or threatened by uncertainity
- recreation, to satisfy a need to play
- competition and opposition, in order to test ability in response to challenge
- insight, because of a need to learn and understand
But too much of anything in dialogue can quench enthusiasm and render the exchange
How can any sense of unfruitfulness be used to reorient the dialogue? How can
it be used as an indicator -- built into the dialogue rather than ensuring its
What if different people feel this unfruitfulness at different times?