In Dialogue, Everyone is Equal

dialogue-equality

As William Issacs suggests, “Dialogue is a conversation with a center, not sides. It is a way of taking the energy of our differences, and channeling it towards something that has never been created before. It lifts us out of polarization and into a great common sense, and is thereby a means for accessing the intelligence and coordinated power of groups of people.”

For some, Dialogue is a space of equality – a safe space where a group of diverse individuals can be heard and talk together. For others, Dialogue is a way of being – a space that gives permission to be mindful and creative. Regardless of how you think about Dialogue, one thing is clear: in Dialogue, we take time to listen to other voices and possibilities as we set aside our own fears, preconceived notions, and need to be right. The process of Dialogue is designed to hold the whole – including the tensions and the paradoxes – from which new ideas are born.

In order to birth these new ideas, it is vital that each individual in the group be treated equally — as peers — recognized and valued for their experience, knowledge and contributions. These individual voices speak and act for the system as a whole. Actively listening — allowing differences and doubts to surface without judgment — is when hearts and minds converge. It is only then that something authentic and original appears.

In Dialogue, no one needs to dominate; in fact if one person or group attempts to take control, you are no longer in true Dialogue. As Jon Kabat-Zinn so beautifully states, “We watch the arising of and listen to the voicing of ideas, opinions, thoughts and feelings, and drink them all in in a spirit of deep inquiry and intentionality — much as we do in resting in awareness in formal meditation practice — allowing it all to be treated as equally valid of at least being seen, heard and known without editing, censoring, vetting or rejecting. A greater intelligence that seems to reside in the group but is not in any one person often emerges – surprisingly — and with it a deeper collective understanding.”

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