A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths: Using Dialogue to by Annette Simmons

By Annette Simmons

This article exhibits readers tips on how to use the method of "dialogue" to aid teams detect and increase their undesirable conversation behavior. It explains the character of discussion and why it's so tricky to accomplish, and provides a step by step "recipe" for discussion.

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Extra info for A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths: Using Dialogue to Overcome Fear & Distrust at Work

Sample text

If we look at dialogue as a process of collective introspection, we begin to capture the nature and the power of the process. Introspection is a conscious unraveling of the tightly held beliefs that frame our reality. When we engage in introspection, we revisit our actions and beliefs with the express purpose of discovering beliefs that no longer represent reality and that no longer help us get what we want. The time we grant ourselves to reflect and reconsider fuels our ability to leap into a higher level of understanding.

Scott Peck's work on community building, and contributions from many, many others. I embraced the idea that we can apply a formal process to create a place where it is safe enough to tell each other the truthsafe enough to say what needs to be said. In 1994, I wrote my thesis on dialogue. To satisfy my personal quest to pump a little authenticity back into the workplace, I used my thesis as an opportunity to develop a process and experiment with innovative methods and techniques. My goal was to find a process that would radically change the norms of a group so that people could increase their capacity to face dangerous truths head-on and address the apparently unsolvable and definitely undiscussable issues that were tearing them apart.

The time we grant ourselves to reflect and reconsider fuels our ability to leap into a higher level of understanding. For some of us, time in the shower is the only time we stop "doing" long enough to think. The shower is the only place where we have enough time to reflect. It is not coincidental that this is also the place where we have some of our best ideas. Although it might inspire new heights of creativity, I don't recommend encouraging your workgroup to shower together. But the concept is the same.

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