Debate vs. Dialogue
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Dialogue as “a conversation between two or more persons, an exchange of ideas and opinions.” When we are stuck in our own worldview during a conflict, we can slip into a debate rather than a dialogue. In a debate, rather than listening to understand the other person, we listen so that we can refute their ideas; our goal becomes winning – rather than transforming – the conflict.
The following graphic contrasting debate and dialogue comes from diversity coach Holiday Phillips. Dialogue is the goal!
|Assumes there is one right answer (and you have it)||Assumes others have pieces of an answer and you can craft a solution together|
|Style is combative, attempting to prove the “other side” wrong||Style is collaborative, seeks to find common understanding|
|Listens to find flaws and counter argue||Listens to understand|
|Critiques only the other position||Critiques all views, including your own|
|Defends your own views at all costs||Allows others’ thinking to improve your own|
|Encourages search for differences||Encourage search for basic agreement|
|Creates a winner/loser and discourages further conversation||Creates an open end, leaving the topic open for further discussion|
|Involves no focus on feelings, often actively seeking to belittle or offend||Involves a real concern for the other, doesn’t actively seek to alienate or offend|
Debate vs. dialogue by Jeseye Tanner is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.