Dialogue, not talk

Dialogue is not the same as talk. Its purpose is not to persuade or pick a winner, as in a debate. The main aim is not to instruct, as in training, or exchange information to achieve a task, as in discussion.

Instead, dialogue is a unique process that addresses the intellect, the emotions and relationships with others. Its first purpose is to explain, to illustrate, to clarify, to engage and to build understanding.


At its best, dialogue helps reduce tensions and build relationships across lines of conflict. Dialogue brings together groups that may not have met before, or have met only as adversaries. It helps people better understand the diverse values, passions and beliefs that lie at the core of their community or organisation. It encourages them to share things that might remain unspoken otherwise. It fosters relational engagement. It facilitates change.

Effective outcomes are the consequence of honest and direct dialogue. Dialogue can lead to improved patterns of communication. And it can create a forum for collaborative analysis and collective action.

As such, dialogue is a powerful catalyst for social change, fostering trust, respect and co-operation.