Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Getting to Know Dialogue

Chris Spies
Dialogue is my last name. My first names are too many to mention. They vary from context to context. So, I’m being called Political Dialogue, Environmental Dialogue, Generic Dialogue, Gender Dialogue, Development Dialogue, Family Dialogue, or whatever people choose to call me. 
I live in “Uncomfortable Safe Spaces” in families, communities, regions, countries; in offices, board rooms, organisations, governments and wherever people practice it.  
I am very different from my distant trouble making cousins Debate, Negotiation, Consultation and Speech, and am frustrated when people confuse us. 
I am very close to my close friend Mediation. We both aim for the same goal. 
I do not carry weapons or shields, because, in safe spaces, there is no need for anybody to attack others or defend themselves. 
My windows are always wide open to allow fresh ideas and perspectives to enter. 
I like to be agile and fit and feel I’m more productive when I’m with fewer people rather than big crowds. So I like key people more than more people, but I also realise that key people will have to make sure that more people dialogue. 
I do not hide or sweep anything under the carpet and keep probing until the complexities begin to emerge.
I recognise that there is sometimes an elephant in the room and then I encourage everyone to say which part of the elephant they recognise. 
I am not afraid to speak the truth boldly. Neither am I afraid to hear and discuss uncomfortable issues.
I do not so much care about who is right, but about what the future asks of us.
I am also not afraid of differences. In fact, I encourage and invite them. 
My goal is not to win arguments. I am curious about what others think and I want to understand better where they come from. 
I therefore do not hold on to “my idea”, because I’m more interested in“our ideas”.  
Blaming does not help anyone. It does not help if I’m jealous of others and certainly not when I take offense if someone criticises me.  
I do not exclude anyone, especially the differently abled people. 
I am a player on the field— not a spectator that dictates from the outside.  
I do not like egos, centre stages, pedestals and podiums. I am most happy in a circle where no one is more important than the other.  
I  have big ears and a small mouth, not the other way around.  
I’m not dressed in T-shirts with negative slogans.  I like to carry a blanket to cover others who are out in the cold.  
People say that, unlike my cousin debate, I do not make them tired and despondent. They find me inspiring and energizing. 
People often think that all I can do is talk. That’s not true. In fact, talking without meaningful interaction is sterile.  And interaction that does not lead to meaningful change in a world full of social injustice is a waste of time. 
If you call me a “soft option” you are dead wrong. I think if you are afraid of me and if you choose to win all the time, you are taking the easy way out. To engage with me is very hard work. You will have to face yourself and those that differ from you. 
I encourage you to be a leader: Be brave people and create something with others that would not have been possible if you had acted alone.  


Anonymous said...

It is a wonderful thought of the day and food of our minds.

It is a very educative poem.

Chris Spies said...

Thank you, Anonymous. Feel free to share it. There is also a Facebook Group that tries to stimulate further thinking about dialogue at

Unknown said...

Chris - this is very profound. Thanks for putting it out there.