Dialogue and Affection

There were a couple of thoughts about dialogue I had hoped to squeeze into the post introducing the Creative Case NORTH review. They are from the section in the full report talking about the CCN process as perhaps most powerful when generating dialogue. They also failed to make the cut in the Executive Summary but felt worth highlighting here.

They discuss writers on dialogue I had not come across until looking for relevant frameworks to test CCN against. You may know all about them, of course, but given the frequency with which creating the right conditions for productive dialogue comes up as a challenge, I thought I’d share. I’ve reformatted slightly to create clearer lists, but otherwise just copied from longer report. They may be useful checklists next time you are trying to engage in productive dialogue. (They’ll probably be less useful if you’re just trying to assert how right you are…)

I will just pause to suggest it would be helpful to generate more of number 5 in Burbules’ list and less of its sarcy-snarky mirror image, manifest often through such symptoms as auto-text ‘critique’, impatience, stereotyping and suspicion.

The physicist David Bohm, in his writing on dialogue, suggests its purpose is ‘to reveal the incoherence in our thought’ in order to discover or re-establish a ‘genuine and creative collective consciousness’ [Bohm, D (1997) On dialogue edited by Lee Nichol, London: Routledge]. This seems to be the aspiration many of those involved in Creative Case NORTH have tacitly agreed upon, and have attempted to create the conditions for. Creative Case NORTH certainly appears to attempt to meet Bohm’s three suggest basic conditions for genuine dialogue:
1. The suspension of traditional assumptions
2. The acknowledgement of others as peers
3. Facilitation to create safe spaces in the early stages of dialogue.

Another writer on dialogue, Burbules [Burbules, N. (1993) Dialogue in Teaching. Theory and practice, New York: Teachers College Press] suggests there are 6 things necessary to successful dialogic conversation. These are
1. Concern for others
2. Trust
3. Respect
4. Appreciation
5. Affection
6. Hope.

These are all reflected as present in the positive comments about Creative Case NORTH and its conversations, and, to some degree, seen as missing by those commenting more negatively.