In many respects, we’re always communicating. But this communication is not always effective when we’re merely talking at each other. Conversations are able to move forward when we engage in a true dialogue – a two-way interaction that leads to a new destination for both.
To be sure, we often have thoughts and ideas we want to share with others and we just want our point of view to be heard and understood. And even having our very thoughts reflected back to us can be very enlightening as it helps us to see and clarify our own position.
At the same time, a true dialogue requires us not to simply share and reflect on our own thoughts, but a willingness to engage in that of others as well. This is not just reflecting on what they have to say, but allowing both of our perspectives to expand and be refined because of our interaction with each other.
Such a dialogue changes all parties involved as old ideas are polished and the space is created for new ideas to emerge.
For example, in marriage it’s not his way or her way, but rather through the refinement of true dialogue a new our way is forged.
Likewise, our relationships with our friends, neighbors, and even those on the other side of the political aisle are all improved the more we can engage in this good faith dialogue with each other.
And this is true also in positions of authority or leadership. While we might provide clear direction for others to follow, the wise leader still receives feedback and accepts the influence of those he leads. And this becomes its own type of dialogue between the two.
Whatever it looks like, we risk creating an echo chamber and becoming blind to our own shortcomings without meaningful dialogue.
In the end, don’t just talk at others as if your perspective is all that matters. Learn the art of true dialogue and allow yourself to be changed for the better.