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The Art of Dialogue

More than ever before, the call for dialogue and collaboration has heightened. Our volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous and digital (VUCAD) world requires working towards greater simplicity and clarity in the way we dialogue and collaborate.

Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare Movement, whose charism is to live in  unity and to fulfil Jesus’ desire “that all may be one” has discovered dialogue as the pathway to reach out and build bridges in peace dialogues with people of different religions and beliefs.

It means learning to welcome differences with respect, making ourselves one while listening to the voice of Jesus in the midst. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.” It means appreciating every encounter with respect, listening fully and completely. It is the culture of dialogue that brings integration, harmony and peace. Its foundation lies in God and His universal fatherhood and therefore our universal brotherhood.

Here are some guidelines that can be practiced so that one or a group can move beyond dialogue to collaboration. It is defined as working with someone to produce or create something shared with often overlapping goals. What makes dialogue and collaboration possible are the attitudes of acceptance and listening. The attitude of acceptance means welcoming the other person. It is assuming the good will of the other person without prejudice and judgement. Respect is best shown by listening attentively with great interest. This means emptying ourselves of our thoughts and highlighting the positives. Listening means less talk and to speak calmly. These often lead to building relationships.

The five tested skills in building relationships are listening, empathy, giving and receiving feedback, awareness of both verbal and non-verbal communication, and the proper use of technology. Let us increase awareness of competencies we often neglect such as proper giving and receiving feedback, consistency of verbal and non-verbal communications, and the proper use of technology. Let us give feedback clearly and without judgement. What is recommended is using the STAR model. It means describing the situation or task, the action taken and the positive or negative result. In the case of negative feedback, it means at the right time or place adding another S in the form of a suggestion. The other is the consistency of our verbal and non-verbal responses to signify trust, authenticity and respect. 

 When using technology tools, such as teleconferencing, preparation is necessary to ensure that all information, documents and resources are available for successful dialogue and collaboration.  

In conclusion, let us move forward building bridges through dialogue and collaboration so that unity in the world will grow and flourish. 

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