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Posted Sep 21 2012 8:52pm

You guys know how I'm really into language and being clear about the language we use...

I was listening to an interview with two people the other day; there was a moderator and two people on "opposite sides" of an issue. 

One of the things that fascinated me most was that both people used very similar language. They both spoke of the need for communication, for "dialog" between all parties.

This, of course, seemed like a terrific idea to me. I mean, I'm all for communication, and listening to all points of view, and for respecting and understanding where everyone comes from... and proceeding on from there.

As I listened closely, what became apparent was that these two people had very different ideas of what the word "dialog" means. One person was using the word to mean that all parites could (and should) pose questions, even if those questions might be difficult and cause discomfort to the status quo- because the time had come for these issues to be thoroughly thought through and perhaps updated. This person used dialog to mean that all parties are equal and that everyone would come to the table in a good faith effort to address the issues of the day.

This was within my conceptualization of the term dialog and I thought, great, have at it!

The other person spoke at length about dialog. When I listened closely to this person it was clear what was meant by dialog (and the person said this, explicitly) was that the other side can talk, they can say what they want, but in the end they need to conform to what our side believes.

Hmmm... that's a very different conceptualization of the term dialog right?

The second person could not for the life of theirself (I know, I know, that's not a word, but I'm purposefully not using he and she in this post) understand why the first person was getting frustrated and saying that they didn't believe the second person did actually want a true dialog. The second person then began accusing the first person of being "obstructionistic" and "unwilling to participate in discussion"

The whole thing ended with bad feelings, confusion and frustration- and some resentment thrown in there also. A mess. And, of course, no closer to addressing the issues of the day- all of which are of significant importance...and are getting neglected because of misunderstandings and rigidity in communication and conceptualization.


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