I have called for both wholism and systems thinking as intentional practices within the dialogue community (Bell & Fenske, 2004). The fourth strategy in Fisher and Ury’s (1981) “principled negotiation” to insist on objective criteria appears to be an impulse toward wholism or finding a larger framework or context.

Positions and ideas that are mutually exclusive may be seen as having a paradoxical relationship to each other. Boga (2004) suggests that paradoxes are resolved by searching for a wider context in which the paradox is validated. Therefore, in a dialogic mode of communication, finding a larger framework or context can resolve paradoxical positions and ideas into new meaning.

Isaacs also introduces the concept of metalogue that is connecting to something larger than the mere content of the dialogue and is “being together in a new way” (1999a, p401). Isaacs continues:

“The music of dialogue within myself calls me to this state, to this living process. I am not isolated in this state; I am intimately tied to the needs and perspectives of others. This place has both depth and breadth. I am aware of a wide architecture, can see to patterns of interaction that arise around me, can act well. And the good, the true, and the beautiful live in a continuous dynamic balance within myself. I can include each of these rich voices. And so I am capable of taking action, but my actions are now revealing of a larger whole” (1999a, p403).

The dialogic mode of communication frames positions, ideas and relationships in a larger context, a larger whole. This is not just a shared meaning that is generated within the context of the dialogue, but a sense of connection to something greater than the dialogue itself.

Posted by John Bell on December 10, 2006
Tags: The Fifth Principle of Dialogue

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