[Crucial Conversations] Dialogues and Shared Pool of Meaning

Crucial conversations can be handled well by dialogues. A dialogue is defined as free flow of information between individuals. A dialogue, if goes well, produces what is called a Shared Pool of Meaning.

When individuals attend to a dialogue effectively, they voice their honest opinions. Because each person brings different interpretations to the same information, these interpretations, when debated, discussed and transformed, will end up creating new meaning in this Shared Pool of Meaning. The larger the Pool is, the more well-informed the group is, and the more effective the group becomes.

Shared Pool of Meaning helps people see different sides of the same problem

Because the meaning is Shared, it is agreed upon without silent resistance. This prevents the silent rebellion which would often result in more meetings until a good dialogue. Either that, or a silent destruction of the plan from individuals unwilling to follow the one-sided directives.

That is not to say that this Shared Meaning can be arrived without frictions. The act of debating and discussing ideas opens oneself to be vulnerable. However, as long as we focus on the quality of idea, rather than innuendos, we can separate the deconstruction of ideas, which is constructive as it’s recognized as part of problem solving, from the deprecation of the individuals who originate the ideas, which is destructive as it’s perceived as personal attacks.

When the opinions vary, the stakes are high and emotions run strong, we often behave at our worst. To get to our best, we need to explain what is in our Personal Pool of Meaning which contains our high stakes, controversial, sensitive opinions – and to get others to share our pool.

We need to develop tools to make it safe to come to the Shared Pool of Meaning – and only then our lives can be changed for the better.

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