There are many common barriers that prevent Dialogue from emerging – trust, fear and distraction to name a few.
People are often afraid to fully trust themselves and others. There is fear associated with being open to the new ideas and possibilities Dialogue brings forth. It takes courage to suspend judgment and participate wholly. It takes resolve to contemplate deeply held beliefs.
As human beings, we are prone to psychological attachment. We therefore experience our assumptions, beliefs, opinions and ideas as truths. Letting go of a world-view you have held for many years and the attachments associated with those ideas can often times feel as if you are giving up part of who you are. And this is frightening.
In addition to trust and fear, distraction is an obstacle to Dialogue as well. It’s the 21st Century – an era of constant interruption. We are pulled in multiple directions simultaneously. Multi-tasking has become a standard way of life. Yet Dialogue requires participants to be present – to be fully aware with undivided attention, focus and self-discipline. It requires time and patience. While in Dialogue, if you are thinking about how many emails are sitting in your inbox or what you’d like to cook for dinner, you are preventing yourself from fully participating and distracting others as well.
Entering the Dialogue process in a distracted way with distrust and fear become barriers to the emergence of new understanding. David Bohm spoke of groups coming together as a “single intelligence” and that the only way to achieve this is by breaking down the barriers that exist between us. And what is one of the most powerful ways to break down those barriers?
We live in a world where sharing every thought and emotion as it occurs – in person or via social media — has become the norm. As a result, we no longer take appropriate time to reflect on what we’ve just said or what has been shared with us, leading to superficial connections.
Dialogue is a process that not only allows for silence but embraces it. It creates a space to more deeply connect with ourselves and others, reflecting together to find meaning, discovering more of who we are individually and collectively.
Letting silence exist between verbal exchanges allows us to derive meaning from what has been shared, integrating it into our hearts. From that place of depth, we become more deeply authentic. With authenticity there is vulnerability and a breaking down of the very boundaries we self-impose upon ourselves.
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