The Magic of Dialogue

Yankelovich, Daniel
February 2001
Magic of Dialogue - Business Book Summaries;2001, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p1
Book Summary
Book Summary
Never before in our nation's history has the need for effective dialogue been so profound. Concurrent with heightened conflict, loosened social bonds, and an increased reliance on "top-down talk," Americans are yearning for more connectedness, community, and mutual understanding. How can these vastly different realities be reconciled? In The Magic of Dialogue, Daniel Yankelovich examines dialogue and its relevance for addressing such a paradox. Drawing upon research, case studies, and his professional experiences, Yankelovich critically examines three factors related to dialogue: why it is necessary, how it should be done, and its broader societal implications. Transcending ordinary conversation in its depth and openness of interaction, dialogue facilitates mutual understanding, decision-making, conflict resolution, creativity, trust, and insight. There are three necessary conditions of dialogue: (a) Equality in the dialogue setting, (b) empathetic listening, and (c) bringing assumptions into the open. Whether planned or spontaneous, between two individuals or several nations, the presence of these three conditions coupled with the skills of dialogue will likely produce extraordinary results. From multiple and diverse case studies, Yankelovich extracts 15 strategies for facilitating effective dialogue. These strategies, essentially a how-to guide for dialogue, should be learned and referred to often. In addition, Yankelovich presents ten "Potholes of the Mind", highly ingrained personality factors that may interfere with successful dialogue. He discusses how to recognize and address each pothole. Yankelovich emphasizes not only the importance of dialogue for interpersonal and organizational relationships, but also for society at large. We are living in a unique era when dialogue offers the opportunity to change the future of America in two ways. First, dialogue can have a "civilizing influence," binding us together as...


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