What does it mean to communicate, converse, dialogue and discuss?
What is the Purpose of Communication?
At it’s simplest form communication is the passing of information from one person to another. This passage of information is an exchange of ideas, facts, emotions, or opinions that allow us to connect and share ourselves with others. It is through communication that we educate others about ourselves and about the world around us as we see it. It is how the world shares information about itself to us in ways that we can understand.
Why is Communication Important?
Communication is important because it shares information which is important us on a level of basic of survival. Being able to tell others there is a fire or a flood is important not just to your safety but to the safety of others, yet it is far more than that. Communication allows to share your experiences with others; it allows you to voice your emotions in meaningful ways that allow others to empathize with you. It allows you to understand the emotions of others, to understand their needs and concerns in a meaningful way that allows you to help them. In order to be understood and to understand others, you should know there are different ways of communicating.
Communicating well is a skill that is taught and learned because it is incredibly easy to miscommunicate with others. You may have at times experienced the stress of having been misunderstood by the people around you and even misunderstand others who have not learned how to communicate clearly. It’s not as easy as just speaking your mind or articulating facts accurately, though. Different social situations, different relationships, call for different types of communication. In order to understand what type of communication you should be using you should first understand what types of communication there are.
The Five Ds of Communication
For simplicity sake, we call them the Five D’s of Conversation: Dictating, Debating, Discussion, Deliberation, Dialog. Each of these types of communication describes different types of communication for different situations and different relationships that you encounter in life. When you know the Five D’s you will know not only which type of communication to use but also what types others are attempting to use with you.
When you are dictating you are talking without listening; it is the act of telling people what is or what will be without allowing them to say anything to that. A person who dictates is typically a person who feels they have the power to make such decisions without discussion. This can be a negative form of communication but it can also be a positive one and it all depends on the situation and the relationships that are involved.
Your boss at work may dictate to you the terms of your employment, when your project is due, where you will work,and other things. This is important for you understand what it clearly expected of you so that you first choose whether those terms are acceptable by you and second the terms you must follow to maintain your employment. This is a positive use of dictating the limits and expectations of your professional employment.
A negative use of dictation is most clearly seen between a toddler and their parent. If your two year old dictates to you when they will go to bed, that is obviously a misuse of the toddler’s power. They are young and need to be in bed a certain time to ensure they get the rest that they need; you know this, we know this, but your toddler doesn’t under why bedtime important. Another place where dictating becomes a negative is in your personal relationships. Dictating is always done from a place superior “power” and in your personal relationships if you attempt to dictate what your friends will do you will seed resentments in your friends and family members because you are acting like you’re superior to them.
A dictator dictates. It denies you anyway to have a discussion, to share, to have a voice in the situation and the relationship. The dictator believes that they are right and you have no say in the matter. There are very few situations where this is true, they exist but they are rare. A vast majority of your relationships and situations of communication will not call for dictating what will or will not be. Knowing this, if you know a friend or coworker who constantly dictates to you what will happen, what is true, that is a negative relationship with someone who feels they have power over you.
The debate is similar to dictating in one way; it is about Who is right. Where dictating entails someone is right because they have power; a debate is of two people of equal power who each individually feel they are Right and the other is wrong. In a debate between two or more people, their only concern is that they are right and proving that they are right. It is not a free flowing exchange of ideas and the foundation that arguing is built on.
Debating can be good and it can be bad. A debate is an excellent way to see where people stand on factual things. A debate among politicians about legislation or a debate between doctors on a valid medical treatment; in this debate, there is normally a right answer and wrong answer. When the debaters respect each other’s power, feel equal to each other, this debate can lead to the proper action.
When the debaters do not respect each, when they feel that they must Win, regardless of what is factually correct, this quickly leads to the participants taking on more extreme positions and reacting in hostile ways. This degenerates the communication in an active argument where facts become irrelevant to the debates need to be Right and their opponent to be Wrong.
The discussion is what we call what happens between people of equal power who exchange information in the broad idea that truth is more highly valued than who is Right and who is Wrong. There are opinions and passion but the discussion is about sharing information first and foremost. It is an amicable sharing of ideas between people even when passions become involved.
A good discussion is not one where everyone comes to an agreement. Instead, a good discussion will include small tidbits of dictation when they expound on their opinions. It includes debating as people push their own views and pick a side but always with a level of respect. You are not dictating what will be for Others, but what is for you. You are not debating to be Right, but to see how you Wrong. You and the people you are having a discussion with respect and value each other and are communicating to grow, to learn, and to teach each other about yourselves.
Deliberation has one goal; to make a decision. A deliberation will have a dictation of facts, a debate about the meaning of those facts, and a discussion of how important those facts are in order for you, your partner, or your group to make a decision. There are distinct stages of deliberation in order to make it productive: gather information, identify criteria, exploring your options, evaluating the alternatives, and then finally making the decision.
Deliberation is frequently done among two or more equals, though you may have your boss or a leader present whose purpose to keep the group focused on what they are doing. In a deliberation no single person dictates what will happen, instead, the group works together to decide what shouldn’t happen.
All of the previous D’s of Communication where about ways to share information what we have to say. Dialog is where we explore Why we have said the things we have said. A dialog is an open and sensitive process because involves us understanding the person behind the words they speak. Dialog is an exploration of why we say the things we do and deeper reflection of what our words really mean not just to us but to the people who are listening to us. Dialog is the process of opening ourselves up, becoming vulnerable and being sensitive to the people who are opening up to us. Group counseling is frequently where you will see a dialog opening up and people sharing their vulnerabilities and is a good way to see positive dialog take place.
While dialog is always meant to be a positive way of communication, we must understand that people are exposing their intimate thoughts and emotions. You should be sensitive and respectful, avoid falling into the other D’s of Communication, because a dialog is not a sharing of facts or information; it is a sharing of yourself that is neither right nor wrong.
When Communication Breaks Down
The first way that communication breaks down is when you utilize the wrong form of communication for the situation and for your relationships. If you try to dictate to your friends what is going to happen when they are obviously deliberating, you are being disrespectful of their sense of equality with you and with each other. While many groups of friends tend to have a leader, this leader rarely dictates what will happen; they allow the group to deliberate and moving forward towards an agreement.
Communication breakdown is hard to deal with and will frequently lead to hostile feelings between you and others. It’s easy to fall into a dictating tone or debate with the people around you but it’s important to realize when it is in inappropriate. Communication is supposed to foster a connection between you, to share information about the world and yourself, but if you don’t use it appropriately you will close off that connection and be cut off from sharing that information.
How to Foster Communication
One of the best ways to foster good communication is to practice it yourself and to participate in a group counseling session or individual counseling that will provide you with a safe place to practice your skills. Group counseling will help you see for yourself how communication can break down for others and how to handle that in a positive way.Individual counseling is a way of opening up a dialog about yourself with someone you trust that will allow you to learn where your own failures come into play when it entails good communication. Communicating is difficult and when we’ve learned bad habits, such as from a parent who only knew how to dictate, individual and group counseling gives you a way to break down those bad habits and embrace a more positive way to share yourself with the world.