Practicing Dialogic Skills, helps learners acquire
and then practice a set of advanced dialogic skills to help them engage in
deeper and more productive interpersonal conversations.
The five advanced skills of reflective practice — being, speaking, disclosing, testing, and probing.
Although the skills may be difficult to master, the
interpersonally competent individual can learn each of these skills, observe
them in an interpersonal situation, and deploy them when called for. It is
not necessary for all the parties to a dialogue to practice these skills at the
same time; rather, it is merely important that the skills be available in one’s
toolkit to help overcome obstacles or to enrich the dialogue.
Definition: Creates a climate for reflection. It asks that we
experience or describe situations, even our own
involvement in them, without imputing meaning
Behavior: View with empathy and with open-hearted acceptance,
as if you are a close friend or family member
View as strange—to display deep interest and curiosity
Invite questions and comments
Acknowledge one’s own and others’ vulnerability
Consider positions as hypotheses to be tested
Self-Inquiry: What can I learn here?
How am I acting to constrain what is possible?
Example: “It looks like we have pretty much endorsed the direct
marketing approach for this advertising campaign.
As you know, I have pushed for it as well, but we all
remember what happened on the Do-op project. I have
to admit that direct marketing feels right to me, but to be
honest with you, I still have some reservations. Do you
think we should take one more look at this? I’m afraid I
might have overlooked something.”
Definition: Calls for speaking with a collective voice to find
collective meaning; attempts to characterize the state of
a group of colleagues at a given time
Behavior: Suggest group norms
Articulate meaning, such as by summoning an image
Be willing to bring out uncertainties and unfounded
Self-Inquiry: What can I say to help us understand ourselves?
What social practices are we engaging in right now?
What is emerging in our collective consciousness that I
Example: “Jamie, your concern left me with an image that seems
to characterize our effort right now. It is like we’re a
cargo plane having to make our destination to Istanbul
but with one engine knocked out.”
Definition: Asks that members find and speak with their own voice
in order to disclose their doubts and assumptions as well
as voice their impatience and passion
Behavior: Disclose one’s feelings at a given moment, based on what
Present one’s story to reveal the depth of one’s
Self-Inquiry: What am I holding back that needs to be aired?
What might I say to help others know me better?
Example: “I wasn’t planning on telling you about this. I know I
have seemed distracted lately and the way I just dealt
with Linda is a case in point. Well, frankly, I am having
some marital problems. I’ve moved into an apartment
and can’t get my mind off my kids.”
Definition: Makes an open-ended query to others to attempt to
uncover new ways of thinking and behaving; asks
members of a group to consider their own process,
including their norms, roles, and past actions
Behavior: Make a “meta-inquiry” to focus on where the group is
Ask whether the group would be willing to test some
Self-Inquiry: Are we helping each other right now?
What can I ask to help us all focus on our process right
Example: “I guess we’re at an impasse. In fact, it looks like we’re
split right down the middle on this one. Can we come up
with some way to resolve this to everyone’s reasonable
satisfaction? What do you all think?”
Definition: Inquires directly with others to understand the
facts, reasons, assumptions, inferences, and possible
consequences of a given suggestion or action; commits to
a nonjudgmental consideration of another’s views
Behavior: Ask about another’s impressions and perceptions
Inquire about one’s attributions of another’s behavior
Explore the consequences of an alternative
Self-Inquiry: What is the basis for another person’s point of view and
Can I explore with others even though their position
may be different from my own?
Example: “Frank, you’ve said several times that you believe that
the workers in your unit should take the ball and run
with it. Yet you say they are dependent and continue to
check with you on every new initiative. Is there anything
you might be doing or saying that might be blocking
their sense of independence? Might you be unwittingly
giving them the sense that you’ll be critical if they screw
up, for example?”