Pearce Associates, Inc.

Our Concepts & Principles

Our Definition of Dialogue

"Dialogue" is a term that is frequently used. However, it means different things to different people. Our approach to dialogue is primarily based in the work of Martin Buber and Maurice Friedman. Briefly stated, dialogue is a form of communication that occurs when the participants:

- Remain in the tension between...
- Holding and describing their own perspective and ...
- Being profoundly open to the perspectives of other people...
- including those with whom they disagree, do not like, or do not understand.

Described like this, dialogue might be thought to be easy. Our experience shows, to the contrary, that this kind of communication is very difficult, particularly when dealing with value-laden or controversial issues.

Our Focus On Dialogic Communication

Our trainings and workshops in dialogic communication focus on four areas:

  • We focus on dialogic conversation. It is learnable, teachable, and contagious.
  • We develop communication competency to engage in dialogic communication. These include dialogic storytelling (holding and describing your perspective); dialogic listening (being profoundly open); and dialogic interaction (maintaining the tension between telling your own story and being open to others).
  • We develop three levels of abilities to create dialogic communication. These include the ability to respond to an invitation from someone else to engage in dialogic communication; to invite others to join in dialogic conversation, particularly when the setting is not conducive for it; and the ability to institutionalize settings so that they are more conducive to dialogic communication.
  • We create possibilities for public dialogue. This includes community visioning, listening, and collaborative planning/problem solving.

As facilitators, we create settings conducive to dialogic communication and, by our interventions, enable people to communicate with each other better than they would without our help.

As consultants, we work with our clients to assess needs, design meetings and programs, and institutionalize patterns of dialogic communication.