Dialogue is an overused word and an underused behavior. Since 2005, Juli has been a student and a teacher of dialogue. For her, that word is best defined by William Isaacs in his 1999 book “Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together”. Isaacs says “… dialogue is a conversation in which people think together in relationship. Most of us believe that we must fix things or change people in order to make them reachable. Dialogue does not call for such behavior. Rather, it asks us to listen for an already existing wholeness… It asks that we create a quality of listening and attention that can include – but is larger than – any single view.”
Dialogue has become an irreplaceable tool that Juli successfully uses in planning, problem-solving and conflict resolution. From 2006 – 2012 she taught dialogue skills to the Leadership Austin Essential classes. Through the Action Learning Teams, which Juli coached and mentored, class members learned about and personally experienced dialogue. They designed and held community dialogues on controversial topics with people who hold a range of views. Some of the topics on which class dialogues have focused include race relations, panhandling, historic preservation, philanthropy, behavioral health and re-entry from incarceration.
The National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation has been a source of information and inspiration for many years. Juli has been an active local planning committee member for the 2008 NCDD National Conference and the 2010 Austin Regional NCDD workshop “From Chaos to Collaboration”. More information about these events can be found at www.ncdd.org.
- Promote mutual understanding.
- “Cool” the discussion to reduce fear and anger.
- Build bridges between different perspectives.
- Promote honest exploration of differences.