Alternatives To Positive Dialogue

Alternatives to the use of Positive Dialogue :
I get the feeling that positive dialogue works best when all the participating parties share the desire for the best ideas to prevail, regardless of whose ideas they are, or how the ideas are modified.

That is my personal desire when I have a discussion, and I thoroughly enjoy discussions where all the parties share positive dialogue values.

But these are not everybody's values. I have had good discussions with a friend of mine who does not discuss this way. He genuinely thinks it is better to have a discussion where all parties steadfastly defend their positions, and only give ground reluctantly when they are forced to. This is more a survival-of-the-fittest type debate, and when I have discussions with my friend, I have to make a mental adjustment to discuss things his way, because he won't adjust to the positive dialogue way.

I still like dialogue discussions better. But before you dismiss my friend's approach, I have to tell you that there are benefits to it: Positive Dialogue builds on the strength of ideas; survival of the fittest debate corrects the weaknesses of ideas. Positive dialogue is conducive to creativity and coming up with good new ideas, because you can easily float half-baked ideas full of holes, and then build them up. Survival of the fittest debate is conducive to fine-tuning and solidifying ideas because any weaknesses get exploited very quickly, and only solid, well-supported ideas can hold their ground.

With positive dialogue, the community does the work of patching the weaknesses of ideas. With survival of the fittest debate, you personally must do all the work of patching the weaknesses of ideas, usually before the debate, or during recesses (this is the part I don't like, because I am lazy).

Both types of discussion rely on all participants sharing a set of values. You cannot have a survival of the fittest debate with someone who punches you if you argue with them. However, I believe that the shared values needed for positive dialogue are more stringent, and less often found (or perhaps less often agreed to).

As an alternative, consider that positive dialog may best exist when the participants are not concerned with having the best ideas prevail. "Best" is often highly subjective, and I find that if the participants are content to leave with an understanding of each others' views, rather than establishing one viewpoint as "right", then an interesting discussion may ensue.
That said, there is at least one more type of discussion. Positive dialogue builds quickly towards the best idea, combining the input from all the participants. Survival-of-the-fittest debate lets the better, already existing idea win, perhaps by patching it up only the minimum amount needed to survive. Story-based dialogue does not explicitly mention ideas. Instead, it implies ideas, by talking about real-life past happenings and concrete events. I am not good at this type of discussion, but I admire those who are. I have been around people who tell a story, and even to me the conclusion is obvious, but since they do not mention the conclusion, it does not become a point of argument.
While I still like #1 the best, #2 has its uses, and the older I get, the more intriguing #3 becomes. Another alternative to arriving at winning or dominant content - See WikiStoneSociety - a means of administering through commission and auctions the moderating of wiki content. It would provide consensus opinion and would determine through an accepted means what is to become prominent and approved content with a relegation of lesser content and opinions into lesser prominence. Not to be confused as control of content or censorship, but as means of managing a much larger wiki content than at present. (I presume there are now nearly 20000 pages) Note: This summary does not do justice to this idea, I'll return with a better summary in a day or two.

From other's pages: The discussion regarding StoneSocietys? seems more concerned with the moderation of content in order to insure a high-level of quality and coherence within the Wiki.

Another restatement of the above would be in StephenCovey's SevenHabitsOfHighlyEffectivePeople, "SeekFirstToUnderstand, Then to Be Understood."


I appreciate what you have said here. It may be like preaching to the Choir, but I would make the following points: Dialogue contains "survival-of-the-fittest" mode discussions; it is not point/counterpoint bipolar in nature, but rather multi-participative and may introduce many proposed solutions or answers. In Dialogue the ownership is not yours/mine, but "ours". The point of the Dialogue is not Win/Lose, or preserve and defend, but "improve". No pretending is made that dialog will dominate as a method, it is not about domination. It is about cooperation and collaboration. As you have pointed out, some people can not adapt to this style of dialogue, they may feel that they are "in the right" and that their job is to "straighten you out", or to poke holes in a defense or position. You cannot win unless you are intelligent, clever, and correct. Dialogue is entered into mostly by "average" people, or people who may not know the answer, but have ideas about what that answer might be, and they have the ability to recognize an answer and solution when they see it, even if it is not their own.
Dialogue is: This page is a recognition of that.

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