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What is the difference between dialogue and deliberation?

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Should we work towards agreement on what words like these mean?
Yes, definitely. It is important that we all know what we're talking about.
71%
?71%? [ 5 ]
It's nice to explore these definitions, but we shouldn't make too much of a deal about it.
14%
?14%? [ 1 ]
I think it is probably a waste of our important time.
0%
?0%? [ 0 ]
No. I think pushing for agreement on things like this undermines our diversity and fluidity. It nails us down too much.
0%
?0%? [ 0 ]
I don't know. OR Hey, we can all feel differently about this. It's not a problem.
14%
?14%? [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 7

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tomatlee



Joined: 06 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 10:09 pm?? ?Post subject: What is the difference between dialogue and deliberation? Reply with quote

How do we define dialogue and deliberation among ourselves?

What is the difference between them?

Where do they overlap?

When should they be considered separately?
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tomatlee



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 10:49 pm?? ?Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't find the sharp distinction between dialogue and deliberation helpful. To me they overlap.

To me the essence of dialogue is shared exploration - participants are exploring together towards better understanding, relationship and/or possibility.

The essence of deliberation is thoughtful choice - thoughtful evaluation of options enroute to a conclusion - participants are looking at a situation from different perspectives, considering diverse options and coming to some conclusion about what should be done about the situation.

Dialogue can be open-ended -- but it doesn't have to be. Deliberation can be very limited, linear and unexploratory, but it doesn't have to be.

It is totally possible and often desirable to have a dialogic deliberation about an issue. In this case, one would expect it to be framed in terms of "What shall we do about this situation?" or "How shall we deal with it?" rather than "Which of these two or three options is the best one?" The former two questions start from an open-ended place (looking at the situation rather than at specific proposals) but are heading towards some conclusion.

To me the real distinction is not between dialogue and deliberation, but between dialogue and debate. Debate is a contest between perspectives or positions, with an expectation that one will be (or should be) the winner. There is little or no space for new perspectives or options to emerge, as they often do in dialogue. Deliberation can be carried out with dialogue, debate or both (or less productive modes like boring presentations of options, followed by a lot of posturing and compromising that go through the motions of considering the issues, but barely qualifies as deliberation).

At the other extreme, some processes (like Dynamic Facilitation [DF]) are so exploratory and creative that their founders (in this case, Jim Rough) don't see how they can be contained by the idea of deliberation -- nor even dialogue. Participants in DF may come up with proposals that are so totally different from what they started talking about that linear people would wonder what happened. Usually the outcome is something deeper than anything anyone thought of before.

I see DF as a particularly creative form of dialogic (exploratory) deliberation (thoughtful evaluation of options enroute to a conclusion), but given the methodical connotations most people have with the term deliberation, I totally understand how Jim would have problems with including DF in that category.
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Wally Clausen



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2004 2:52 pm?? ?Post subject: Dialogue, Deliberation and the Overlap Reply with quote

Impressive. I just voted, and find myself a member of a 100% majority (1 out of 1). Doesn't happen often.

I agree that there are matters more important than differentiating between these two concepts, but feel that some of those more important matters could be advanced more successfully if we had better distinctions.

I agree with Tom that the contrast with "debate" and all it connotes is a more profound contrast, but both dialogue and deliberation are so contrasted.

Although there are extremes in both dialogue and deliberation categories that can muddy the waters, the "center" of each seems to me distinctive. There is a quality of shared inquiry and understanding-seeking about dialogue that seems central. There is a quality of weighing and of moving toward some outcome that seems central to deliberation. The feeling is quite different.

The "overlap" -- or transition -- is important, as it is where the accomplishment (ideally) of understanding things better collectively moves toward formulating possibilities for what we might do about that understanding.

I've commented before about "dialogue and deliberation" and "deliberative dialogue". If we want to shmush-them, OK -- but then I'll feel driven toward expressions like "the stage or phase of dialogue-and-deliberation that is like [x,y,z]". But then, I've always been a splitter rather than a lumper.
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taylorwill



Joined: 13 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:57 am?? ?Post subject: dialogue and deliberation - what's the distinction? Reply with quote

Tom,

I believe that it is important to distinguish between these because dialogue can happen without ever impressing upon the participants the need to confront their own internal conflicting values and the costs and consequences of DECISION-MAKING together. I can have a dialogue with you and walk away changed in minor ways (O.K. I'm adding a value judgment here about what is a major change vs. a minor change!). But deliberation is about weighing the impact of my opinions on those who come from different perspectives and THEN recognizing that the newly-surfaced impact might result in outcomes that conflict with the values I've used to construct my opinion in the first place.

For example, I might support an option based on my value of fairness. However, I might have defined that value within the narrow constructs of my own experience. Once I have the opportunity to engage with others, I am likely to find that they have a different perspective about what should be done, but their opinion is based on a different perspective or definition of fairness. If I want to be true to my value, then I have to listen and understand the subtle differences because I'm suddenly confronted with the notion that my values framework for fairness does not meet the standards or definition that others hold. So - is this a hollow framework I'm using, or do I need to rethink my own perspective in order to truly meet my own objective to base my opinions on "fairness"?

I also have to recognize that sometimes one value takes on a lesser import than another - values themselves can conflict. I valued the work that I did in literacy in California. I also valued my family ties in Texas. I could not be both in CA fulfilling my life calling there while also tending to my calling to be with my family in TX. It was excruciating, but the exercise of deciding how to balance the conflict actually led to new and interesting ways for me to hold both values. I realize that these are simplistic examples, but sometimes those are the best way to illustrate the distinction between dialogue and deliberation. Dialogue was an important tool for cultivating my thought process, but the imperative to make a decision required that I shift into the deliberative mode - I couldn't just talk; I had to put my stake in the ground and commit to a decision that was based on thoughtful reasoning - judgment!

This is an example of a personal deliberation with my own family and literacy program staff, but you can begin to see how this kind of deliberative conversation can be key in making policy decisions. Who should get a tax break and who should pay more and why? How do we allocate limited resources in the health care field? How do we (and who) pay for educating our youth? What is fair? What is equitable? What decision most accurately reflects our values?

Taylor
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Patricia A. Wilson
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 2:29 am?? ?Post subject: dialogue and deliberation - what's the distinction? Reply with quote

A year ago I was very clear on the distinction between dialogue and deliberation:
Dialogue (in the Bohmian or Bill Isaacs or Peter Senge sense) is the collective reflection on how we think and know so that we can become aware of our mental models and therefore be able to dismantle them so that we can see more comprehensively (i.e. from the truth in various perspectives or mental models) and more accurately.
Dialogue leads to creative learning together the outcome of which no one could imagine at the beginning (as opposed to discussion or debate, as Tom points out,which is defending our positions or the mental models behind them, until someone is declared the winner).
Dialogue is a heartfelt process, as well as mental, as participants feel safe enough to expose their assumptions, share who they really are, and let go of assumptions about who others are and their positions.

Deliberation, as I saw it a year ago, was an above-the-neck rational process for making reasoned choices among competing values or scarce resources based on detailed information.

Now as I have read more of the literature on deliberative processes and have participated in public deliberative approaches such as National Issues Forum, I realize that the distinction is quite blurry. Deliberative approaches can lead to individual transformation, just as dialogue can, in which participants broaden their lense on the world and begin to see from the whole, at which point the new understanding can be cathartic, leading to compassion, empathy, and respect for others that wasn't there before.

What about the link to action? With my old view of deliberation as rational decision-making for choosing a course of action, I didn't see the resulting decisions as particularly deep or innovative. It was the old linear (Newtonian) decision making model of problem, data, cause, effect, solution. Listen to some experts, weight the pros and cons, decide. Dialogue, however, was described in the literature as an end in itself, satisfied with creating new meaning and shared understanding, without necessarily worrying about the action that would result.

How do I see the link with action now? To the extent that both dialogue and deliberation are transformative, allow us to see more accurately, and lead to thinking from the whole, they can both lead to a deep place from which people can sense (or in Otto Scharmer's terms pre-sense or presence) the highest future that is wanting to emerge. In Taylor's moving personal example of the conflict between two deeply held values, I would bet that the final decision was not just an above-the-neck 'rational' decision based on a list of pros and cons, but rather a heart- and gut-wrenching decision made on the basis of a deep sensing of the future that was wanting to emerge. This sensitivity to the emergent is the quality that we in the D&D community are developing now. It is the key to linking D&D with action.
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Wally Clausen



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 6:20 am?? ?Post subject: Which is "better": D then A? or D, then D, then A? Reply with quote

I think we're teasing out useful distinctions between Dialogue and Deliberation, including "what people usually mean by these terms", and the realities of particular conversations, intentions and contexts. The common debate between valuing talk/thought vs valuing action seems to be part of it.

Is it not the case that:

- Dialogue, as usually defined, typically does not move well or easily into action? It may have great benefits, and fuel separate gatherings and conversations that generate action, but action really is not what it is all about.

- Deliberation, in the National Issues Forum sense where framing has taken place, is much more oriented toward moving along a path to individual and/or collective action? Less rigorous and more concrete deliberative formats may be even more likely to support a bridge to action, but they may be less able to evoke diverse values, the "whole person", etc.

- Dialogue, to connect people and to widen and enrich the field of understanding and inquiry, followed by deliberation, to narrow and focus the conversation on issues and options relevant to the particular gathering of people, is likely to enable movement toward action and to tie the gathered people more deeply to the action(s)? But not every gathering includes people who want the greater closeness and degree of sharing that dialogue implies, and there's often not time for this.

BTW, I'm about to convene a large/mixed group in an event that includes both an NIF-style deliberation on global issues, or "problems without borders", and exploration and experimentation with uses of the arts to understand, explore options, advocate, etc., on such issues. The NIF-style deliberation, as many do, may have a front end of experience-sharing that passes for an abbreviated dialogue. And an opening dialogue, in the circle of chairs sense, will precede the arts-oriented session (and others) as well. I speak a bit more about this in the "practitioners" topic category of this site.
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Baraka



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2004 12:39 pm?? ?Post subject: The difference between Dialogue and Deliberation Reply with quote

I think that the previous posts have put a very fine point on the difference between the two so I won't attempt to elaborate on such clear and useful commentary. There is an aspect of the commentaries that I want to elaborate on for the purposes of this discussion. Wisdom is a quality that rises out of the investigation of our assumptions. While delibertion can and should include inquiry the purposes to which it is put is the defining issue. Deliberation uses inquiry to get at the underlying assumptions for the purposes of establishing a position or point of view. It is seldom the inquiry that invokes self examination and the possibility of transformation although it can happen unintentionally.

Wisdom is not an absolute based on notions of right and wrong. Nor does "understanding" in the personal or public sense quite make it. Wisdom evokes a certain connectedness that moves toward wholeness as a comprehensive event. There is an expectation of being a part of, or a participant in this comprehensive identity of universe that can only be achieved through transcendence and transformation.

Here is a definition of Universe with a cororllary - followed by a substanciating observation by Albert Einstein.


We conceive the universe as a spiritual whole, made up of individuals, who have no existence except as manifestations of the whole; as the whole, on the other hand, has no existence except as manifested in them.



And its corollary;



It is by Love that we can fully enter into that harmony with others which alone constitutes our own reality and the reality of the universe.



Supported by:



?“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.?”

Albert Einstein

I hope this adds to the conversation in some substancial way.

Rogier Gregoire
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Michael Briand



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 12:51 pm?? ?Post subject: Reply with quote

Good conversation. Just a short note to let you know that before too long I'll be posting a fairly lengthy piece on "Deliberation and Democracy." (It's an overview of the predominant perspectives in academia.) As the title suggests, it will deal chiefly with deliberation, though there will be a bit on dialogue. But it may provide additional food for thought concerning the distinction between the two.
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Sandy



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:46 pm?? ?Post subject: What is the relationship between dialogue and deliberation? Reply with quote

Here's something to add to the mix. This is something I wrote up in an attempt to explain my view at the time of the relationship between dialogue & deliberation for our page that includes dozens of definitions of D&D (http://www.thataway.org/resources/understand/what.html).

What is the relationship between dialogue and deliberation?

A typical dictionary definition of dialogue might explain that dialogue is "a conversation between two or more people," or that it is "an exchange of ideas or opinions." A dictionary typically describes deliberation as "thoughtfulness in decision or action" or "discussion and consideration of all sides of an issue."

Someone who works with these processes of public talk might explain that dialogue is a process that allows people, usually in small groups, to share their perspectives and experiences with one another about difficult issues. Dialogue is not about judging, weighing or making decisions, but about understanding and learning. Dialogue dispels stereotypes, builds trust and enables people to be open to perspectives that are very different from their own.

They might then explain that deliberation is a related process with a different emphasis. Deliberation promotes the use of critical reasoning and logical argument in decision-making. Instead of decision-making by power, coercion or hierarchy, deliberative decision-making emphasizes the examination of facts and arguments and the weighing of pros and cons of various options.

According to political scientist Iris Marion Young, the "...norms of deliberation are culturally specific and often operate as forms of power that silence or devalue the speech of some people," noting that predominant "norms of 'articulateness'...are culturally specific, and in actual speaking situations...exhibiting such speaking styles is a sign of social privilege." (From Communication and the Other: Beyond Deliberative Democracy. In Democracy and Difference. ed. Behabib, S. Princeton: Princeton University, 1996.)

Preceding deliberation with dialogue - and retaining many of the principles of dialogue throughout the deliberation process - can help ensure that everyone is able to participate fully and safely. Establishing ground rules, emphasizing the importance of listening, utilizing trained facilitators, encouraging storytelling and reflection on personal experiences and perspectives are all dialogue techniques that can help ensure that everyone at the table has a real voice.

Dialogue lays the ground for the vital work of deliberation. The trust, mutual understanding and relationships that are built during dialogue allow for participants to deliberate more effectively, and to make better decisions.

Many questions still need to be answered, though. Are there certain circumstances in which dialogue is less necessary, or even inappropriate? If people have an equal understanding of an issue, and already have good, trusting relationships, is dialogue unnecessary? If the issue is not personally important to those involved, should they go right into deliberation? If a decision needs to be made immediately, can dialogue be passed up? How often does dialogue lead to deliberation? How effective is dialogue that leads to action without deliberation? These are all questions that need to be explored further.[/url]
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margstout



Joined: 26 Aug 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 10:57 am?? ?Post subject: d&d definitions Reply with quote

This was a nice thread to read. I agree that there are shared characteristics or activities in the two processes, as they both consist largely of building intersubjective understandings. However, in my experience of these processes, I have found that the distinction between the two centers on intent. It is very helpful to any group to agree upon the intent of the activity. As noted by several in this thread, typically, dialogue has an anticipated intent of understanding while deliberation has an anticipated intent of decision-making. If we aren't clear on how a given group is defining and perceiving the intent of what we call our activity, the misunderstandings lead to unnecessary conflict. Furthermore, if a process includes both intentions in a phased manner, if the group is not clear on when the transition occurs, the same problems emerge. Individuals have very different thresholds regarding the need for one versus the other, so it's important to clearly bound those processes so they can map where they are, how they are expected to engage, and whether or not they wish to continue to engage within the identified intent. Thus, from a praxis perspective, this issue is important to clarify, rather than brush off or blur absolutely.
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tomatlee



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 11:54 am?? ?Post subject: A Merger of Dialogue and Deliberation Reply with quote

The purpose of decision-making is to establish a closure that can then be used to align people and resources with certain goals, realities and/or behaviors.

The two intents -- understanding [dialogue] and decision-making [deliberation] -- can merge when understanding deepens and broadens into shared reality. "We talk until there is nothing left but the obvious truth" say the Native Americans who know this phenomenon well.

Seldom are the conditions right for this, but preparation and process can make it possible, if participants are willing to be relatively open-ended about time.

Once people experience this deepening into an emergent shared reality, it often becomes an idealized goal for them in the future (as participants, facilitators, organizers).

My own Epiphany with this is described in "How to Make a Decision without Making a Decision" http://co-intelligence.org/I-decisionmakingwithout.html.

We need these concepts -- dialogue and deliberation -- separate, but not alienated from each other. They CAN support each other -- and they can even merge into one thing. We need to be able to facilitate all of these possibilities.[/url]
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Rex Barger



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:46 pm?? ?Post subject: The intent(s) of dialogue & deliberation Reply with quote

If I could find out where to vote on the Poll, I'd vote for "It's nice to explore these definitions, but we shouldn't make too much of a deal about it." This is because we all have a tendency to use words sloppily. This makes dictionary-making difficult because they try to compile all the different ways words are actually used in their 'definitions'. So I'd like to suggest that maybe we should spend less time on agreeing on a single definition & more time on making our intentions more clear. (Yeh! Marg Stout!)
My intent in almost any conversation (& all D&D) is to verify my mental model of reality. It's what controls my actions so I want to make sure it is as accurate as I can make it. Because I assume that there is only one reality (universe), I also assume that when all our mental models of that reality are as accurate as they can be all our group decision-making should be a lot easier, regardless of whether we are trying to agree on guidlines (or policies) or whether or not to endorse a specific project.
Many difficulties arise when anyone's intent is primarily to feather their own nest (regadless of how this might impact the rest of life). (Yeh! Einstein!)
How does this affect me? It makes me want to REJOICE whenever anyone (with an open mind) disagrees with me! WOW! Another opportunity to refine my mental mdel of reality!
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