Skills of the constructive dialogue

Recently I encountered a situation in which a person was not prepared to engage in dialogue. And how many of us are really ready?
Dialogue is a conversation of two. Conversation and not a lecture in which one speaks and another just listens. Often the speaker either is not capable to listen (he is a speaker after all ) or tries to impose his point of view.  If you try to make a dialogue with such a person you will fail cause it is like talking to the wall.

Unfortunately, this happens all the time. Most divorces happen because of the fact that people can not talk to each other, and those who continue to live together are not always successful in this as well. Sometimes people just do not want changes or one of the two plays solo and another enthusiastically catches every word of soloist. In the latter case, it could be even called a successful union , but only if the listener feels that his  needs are not neglected. Of course there are happy marriages. However they are  in my opinion the unions of people who worked on them. The marriages of people who to the contrary to mathematics want to add one to one and get also one. Cause it is not mathematics and cold numbers, but real people. Lack of the communication skills primarily affects the marriage, but is manifested not only in it. There are plenty of other examples: a parent and a child , a teacher and a student , friends , etc. . The list can go on and on …

Where does this problem originate from?  I think one of the reasons is when a person feels that he is always right and blame others. Occasionally  such people can even ” admit their shortcomings”. However for some reason they talked about it proudly making it clear that in fact  it is not a disadvantage, but the sign of dignity  …

What is necessary for the dialogue? Two main things: the ability to hear another person and ability to express our feelings in a way that doesn’t humiliate another person. It’s so simple in words and so hard in life.

I mean to hear another person and really understand his point of view, not  our understanding but his. Admit our mistakes in order not to repeat them in future. Try to find a compromise for the sake of union, association, collaboration, friendship, peace in the family …

Much harder to change yourself when you are already an adult  and some people never change. They eagerly continue to seek for support from the crowd and do not accept criticism (If someone criticizes me it means he was wrong and I’m always right). They can’t accept the opinion that is different from theirs. Because they lack an ability to see beyond themselves.

It is so different when a person can look at himself honestly, accept the problems and tries to work things out.  Sure, criticism or self-criticism should be constructive in order to help if not to change the opinion but at least to see the situation under a different angle and as a result to enrich the person .

It is also crucial to be able to communicate our feelings and be precise and respectful. Many people don’t know how to do it. They either do it in a wrong time when the emotions are still heated or simply do not know how to express themselves without blaming the other side.

I think that it is our role as parents to prepare our children to talk, to live and to work together with others. To be able to listen. And talk.


9 thoughts on “Skills of the constructive dialogue

  1. Rivka_ch says:

    Dear Yehudis, this is one of the most problematic fields of human communication, IMHO. The older one gets the more difficult it gets to listen to the others in order to really understand. I mean where there’s personal involment in the matter, of course. Our psychie gets more and more stable where we know practically all answers to all questions we care about, and listening to somebody we try either to confirm what we already know and like or reject his/her opinion if it doesn’t concide with ours. To be able to listen is to be able to shake off your previous experience and be open to try on a new opinion, even if it is for a moment. What can help us to do it? Training in respecting the others and their opinions, which is actually what it says in the Igeres HaRaMBaN: Vekol odom hiye godoil mimcho beeinecho. Ve im chochom oi oshir hu, olecho lechabdoi. Veim ro hu, veato jibh oi chochom mimenu, choishoiv belibcho ki ato chaiov mimenu vehu zakai mimcho. Sheim hu choite – hu shoigeg veato meizid. Some people read it their whole lives and never reach the peak. To train our children from small on and davening seems to be the only way. And to try to get this into our kishkes belons there as well:) I had an answer ready only because it’s one of my greatest nisayonois I’m busying myself with. י

    • Dear Rivkah, this is so true. However there is a way to train oneself to listen in the marriage and not only. I read about the technique when you and your partner set aside 10 min everyday at certain time and take turns speaking about anything you wish at that moment. One speaker for the night. In the end you ask your partner to tell you what he / she heard and understood from your talk. In the beginning the results might shock cause they will be so far from what you’ve intended. However in a while with consistency you will be able to understand each other much better.
      It is really worth trying.
      The only thing is that the desire to work things out has to come from both parties. 🙂

      • rivka_ch says:

        But you can’t make the other party work unless the party wants to:) All should come from self alone. I don’t mean listening in marriage in my case, it’s general listening that concerns me. I’m learning Even Sheleimo, which is in fact very similar to what Reb Yaakov wrote in LJ. It’s never too much info!:)

      • Oh, in my case as well…
        I’ll tell my husband about your comparison)

      • Also as I mentioned you can practice this technique with anybody with whom you have long term relationship as with parent or child or student or friend…The point is only if you and your partner are ready to try work out the problem. I think you are talking a bit about different problem… You are talking from the perspective of personal growth and you are right you can’t change others you have to work on yourself. However I talk about different situation… I talk about dialog and there are two people in a dialog. At least it suppose to be.The question is how to make it work… And it is not only matter of your personal growth. There are situations when you need to try your best in order to make things work. As a teacher I can’t say I have to work solely on myself. I have to make it work with a student. So I think we are talking about slightly different topics. Correct me if I got you wrong.

  2. rivka_ch says:

    I’ll try to explain how I see it. If a person asks how she can improve her or her child’s dialogue skills it means it presents even if slightly a problem. At least, in recognition of a problem one has. Thus solving any problem within itself is a matter of personal growth. Some people need to work on their listening skills, some should work on their talking skills in order to be understood by others.
    From my experience you can try to work on somebody else’s only if they let you. You may (general you) suggest your husband, mother, friend to play this listening game but only as long as they are interested. They might be even sure they do everything right and are near to being perfect! It means, you need to start with yourself if you want to improve yours. And this improvement is not only pure listening or talking, it’s accepting others’ opinions, their moods, their experience, their everything. This is the connection I meant.

    You can and must try to improve your childrens’, but also only as long as they are able to reciprocate. The best way here is to suggest they work on their personal growth that might (!) help them to improve their personal skills and even more. So to speak, not to start at the beginning but a step ahead.

    • hmm.. Dear Rivkah, as funny it can be I think in our conversation we are demonstrating the problem precisely))) I am not sure with what part of my post you davka arguing? Are you arguing at all? I am a bit puzzled. Can we try to practice the reflecting technique? If yes, please tell me what do you think I was trying to say. )))

      • rivka_ch says:

        I’m not arguing. I’m trying to answer your question how we can teach our children to listen in a constructive dialogue:) That’s all. From the very beginning!

      • well, here is a misunderstanding: although I appreciate your valuable input I did not ask any questions …I just shared my thoughts and ideas)))

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