Business leaders can always learn more about communication. Like when we converse with another person – at work, at home, or socially – we may call the conversation a dialogue or a discussion. However, these two words mean totally different things, and pointing out those differences might help you communicate better with the people close to you. Because dialogue is better than discussion.
Discussion comes from the Latin discussus, which means a shaking. The root “cuss” word appears in percussion and concussion, both of which add the element of striking, or breaking. I think of people having discussions as bantering back and forth, waiting for their turn to talk. There is no “build together” to a discussion.
Dialogue, on the other hand, comes from the Greek word dialogos, dia meaning through, and logos meaning the word. So a dialogue is something that we build together through our words.
The way leaders think about communication can make a big difference in our success. Trigger words can have an effect on your conversation, too. Dialogue is better than discussion. To improve your communication, focus on building dialogues. Here’s how:
- Face, look at and listen to those with whom you’re talking. Really listen, and let them know you hear them.
- Pick up where they left off, and build on it. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, just something.
- Emphasize the places where you agree before exploring the differences.
- Eliminate “Yes, but…” from your vocabulary. Nobody even hears the “Yes” in it anyway. Try using “Yes, and…” instead.
- For fun and practice, try playing a group improv game. Build a sentence, or even a story, one person saying one word at a time.
Having a dialogue with someone will leave you both feeling like you put something into it, and got something out of it. Dialogue is better than discussion. That’s good communication.