A dialogue approach
Dialogue is a practice and process that allows groups of people to come together to co-create a space of non-judgement, from which to generate new thinking and shared meaning by a process of inquiry and group intelligence.
Why use dialogue
Living in a time that requires urgent solutions it can seem counter-intuitive to slow down and commit time and space to talking and thinking together. If you recognise that we will not arrive at meaningful and effective solutions without innovation, creative thinking, an ability to ‘not know', the courage to ‘be comfortable with being uncomfortable', and the valuing of each person’s unique experience and intelligence, then a dialogue process is for you. Either on its own or combined with other facilitation methods it is a powerful tool to connect, understand, learn and transform.
“It is a process which explores an unusually wide range of human experience: our closely held values; the nature and intensity of emotions; the patterns of our thought processes; the function of memory; the importance of inherited cultural myths; and the manner in which our neurophysiology structures moment-to-moment experience...Such an inquiry necessarily calls into question deeply held assumptions regarding culture, meaning and identity.” - David Bohm
I have trained in dialogue methods and have developed my approach to Bohm Dialogue through a combination of training, experience and guiding principles extracted from Bohm’s texts. I have developed these principles into creative workshops and methods that can be adapted for different needs. If you are looking to bring dialogue to your organisation with the aim to manage complexity and change, improve relationships and increase understanding, harness collective intelligence and generate new thinking or would like to learn more about training on the principles of the dialogue practice please get in touch.
Some examples of previous work
My dialogue practice is grounded in David Bohm’s work. David Bohm (1917-1992) was a theoretical physicist, most known for his theory of the implicate and explicate order. In his later life he developed a philosophy of dialogue which grew out of his observation that one of the reasons for the many crisis’s we face as a global society is fragmentation. Our societies, organisations and even ourselves are fragmented; we have lost sight of the whole and that all livings things are interconnected, interdependent and interrelated.
As Bohm’s contemporary Einstein famously said, “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create it.” This is why Bohm recognised that what we so desperately need is new thinking, and that we struggle to arrive at this new thinking because we do not create the time and space to come together and meet in a meaningful way or create the conditions in which we can allow new thinking to occur.
The principles that are needed to form a comprehensive dialogue practice are illustrated below.
First and foremost it is important for each participant to be able to listen fully and deeply. We can develop our listening skills to be able to gain greater understanding of both others and ourselves.
When practising listening, it is the ability to suspend any judgements that may arise and make them available for inquiry, that can lead to the generation of new knowledge. Creating a non-judgemental space for a group requires trust, openness and honesty.
3. Suspension & Inquiry
Once we have developed the ability to suspend our initial judgements, we create room to make them available for inquiry. By exploring and challenging different perspectives we can begin to see the patterns that create our thought, and opportunities for new thinking together.
4. Thought vs. Thinking
In Bohm dialogue, thought is seen as the product of past thinking-our memory and thought patterns. Thinking is a fresh response to any given situation, the ability to consider new ideas and perspectives.
Dialogue is something creative. By sharing experience in a non-judgemental way, we are able to create new thinking together. Dialogue harnesses the power of our natural creativity, empowering the group.
6. Creating Meaning
Dialogue allows us to appreciate the interconnectedness and interdependency of our knowledge and experience. It provides the time and space for reflection on our commonalities and differences in a way that creates meaning for all.
7. New Thinking
The purpose of dialogue is to create new thinking together by sharing meaning. As Bohm said, 'a change of meaning, is a change of being,' and through the creation of new meaning and thinking we can achieve transformational change.
For a dialogue to be successful, participants will benefit from understanding the principles of dialogue and the values of the practice. A values-based approach ensures a strong foundation for the process and its outcomes.
Source material: On Dialogue, David Bohm; Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together, William Isaacs; Dialogue Rediscover the Transforming Power of Conversation, Linda Ellinor and Glenna Gerard