DIALOGUE SKILLS

Modes of Talking and Thinking Together

The Dialogic Modes help you to get the right level of engagement for what you want to achieve when you talk to people face to face. You want one level of engagement, and therefore a particular Mode, if you are instructing people to leave a burning building and a different level of engagement and Mode if you are getting to know a new colleague or building a new team. There are 7 different Modes and when we are communicating face-to-face we are always in one of them. Many people find that they are limited in the Modes that they use, and therefore limited in the range and effectiveness of their engagement.

The 7 Modes are:

Monologue
Where one speaker holds the floor. It is useful for instructions, directions and speeches BUT doesn’t draw out others’ ideas and may not hold their attention.

Debate
Where different sides try to win the argument by beating the others’ down. It is useful for getting the ideas out onto the table BUT only one side can win, so it is either/or.

Discussion
Where ideas are batted back and forth. It is useful for agreeing an agenda or reaching a decision without going into depth to save time BUT these decisions can unravel because they haven’t been thought through and in the end it can take much longer.

Conversation
Where you turn your ideas over lightly together and see what you find. It is useful for building relationships, finding out what is happening and getting people involved BUT it lacks focus, wastes time and can discredit the importance of talking together.

Skilful Conversation
Where you reveal the thinking behind what you say, as well as your view. It is useful for clarifying assumptions and implications to reach a shared understanding BUT it depends on analysing the different views (eg I understand why you disagree with me) rather than generating new ones together.

Dialogue
Where the group work up an idea together so that it is owned by everyone involved. It is useful for genuine alignment and sustainable change BUT for short term impact it takes longer than telling people what to do.

Generative Dialogue
Where new thinking is conceived and articulated from an agenda-free dialogue. It is useful for entering unchartered waters and creating extra-ordinary teams BUT is uncontrollable.

The skill with the Modes is to understand the difference between each Mode and what each achieves, to be able to recognise which Mode you are in and which one you need at that time, and to have the skills to shift into any Mode. Each Mode requires different skills.

Further materials are available for Associates. Click Here