Johnnie Moore

On Dialogue

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

I’m reading Bill Isaacs’ Dialogue for about the fourth time. And I’m probably getting more out of this reading than the previous three.

It’s a densely written, thought provoking book that attempts to describe some of the practices that contribute to more profound conversations. It’s tricky because getting to a space of deep conversation is not something you achieve by following a formula. As Isaacs says

The method for dialogue that I describe in this book… turns out to be the kind that points you to certain experiences and abilities that, once understood, must be let go of completely in order to experience things for yourself.

He acknowledges the difficulty of trying to make explicit a process that is subjective and by its nature steeped in paradox but argues we need to do something to try to rescue our discourse from the banality it can easily slide into.

He suggests that in many of our conversations we are still thinking alone, rather than thinking together, and points to several of the organisational cliches about action and decision-making that keep us alone. And this remark resonates too:

Beneath the reluctance to let go of our beliefs is the fear that there will be nothing underneath – a kind of anxiety about existence itself. Perhaps we cling to our certainties because we believe this is all we may have.

I have had some experience of aiming for dialogue in groups, often using a talking stick, and have been pretty amazed at what can happen when we succeed in suspending our normal rules of engagment for conversations (interrupting; debating; arguing corners).

Share Post:

More Updates

someone filming

Making little videos

I’ve not been blogging much here lately. I’m glad to have a decade’s worth of posts to look back on but I’ve been conspicuously not

Foggy driving

Driving in fog

A metaphor about writing has wisdom for much of our lives at the moment