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Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together: A Pioneering Approach to Communicating in Business and in Life Hardcover – 1 May 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group; First Edition edition (1 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385479999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385479998
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 2.8 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 147,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Modern conversation is a lot like nuclear physics, argues William Isaacs. Lots of atoms zoom around, many of which just rush past each other. But others collide, creating friction. Even if our atomic conversations don't turn contentious, they often just serve to establish each participant's place in the cosmos. One guy shares a statistic he's privy to, another shares another fact, and on and on. Each person fires off a titbit, pauses to reload while someone else talks, then fires off another. In Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together, Isaacs explains how we can do better than that.

Isaacs, who is Director of the Dialogue Project at MIT and a consultant to major corporations, including AT&T and Intel, believes that corporate, political and personal communication can be a process of thinking together--as opposed to thinking alone and then trying to convince others of our positions by refusing to consider other opinions, withholding information, and ultimately getting angry and defensive. This is not pie-in-the-sky, let's-all-hold-hands-and-sing stuff. He offers concrete ideas for both listening and speaking; for avoiding the forces that undermine meaningful conversation; for changing the physical setting of the dialogue to change its quality. The outcome, he says, can be quite different from the traditional winner-loser structure of arguments and debates. Businesses can make more reasoned decisions and thus earn more money. Governments can create peaceful resolutions to seemingly intractable problems. (As an example of this, Isaacs cites secret conversations between Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk in South Africa, which occurred over a number of years, while Mandela was still under arrest, and led to a new framework for their country.) And, though this is a book primarily geared toward managers, even married couples can learn a few new ways to communicate. --Lou Schuler, Amazon.com

Synopsis

Emphasizes the importance of a successful dialogue to successful business operations, explaining how the "art of thinking together" can be used to create a communication bridge in organizations and communities.

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Mar 2008
Format: Hardcover
According to the subtitle, Isaacs provides "a pioneering approach to communicating in business and in life." This he does with insight and eloquence. There is a great need for what this book provides, especially now as organizations are (finally) beginning to appreciate the importance of supporting (indeed nourishing) the personal as well as the professional development of their "human capital" The word "dialogue" denotes conversation between two or more persons. Moreover, the original meaning of the word "conversation" is to turn around, to transform; later, the word's meaning evolved to "living, dwelling, and associating with others." Today, most of us think of conversation as "talk." Some of us think of it as a "lost art." Isaacs obviously has both words clearly in mind as he introduces his "pioneering approach." His purpose is to explain HOW effective dialogue, dialogue which is "about a shared inquiry, a way of thinking and reflecting together", can increase and enhance human dignity and understanding. How important is face-to-face communication? My own opinion is that it is more important now than ever before. However, again my opinion, the quality of face-to-face communication has rapidly deteriorated in this age of high-speed electronic "connectivity."

Isaacs' book is organized into five "Parts": What Is Dialogue; Building Capacity for New Behavior (ie listening, respecting, suspending, and voicing); Predictive Intuition; Architecture of the Invisible; and Widening the Circle. several For me, one of the most important of Isaacs' themes is so obvious, so simple: Show your respect for others by listening carefully to what they say. Dialogue worthy of the name is based on mutual respect. Hence the importance of attitude.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Smith on 29 Dec 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book has many interesting and valuable insights - and I agree with much of what is said in the other favourable reviews. However, it has too many anecdotes and a lot of unneccessary repetition. It would have been a lot more accessible with a good editor.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Teresa Muldoon on 11 Jan 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone wishing to improve their living of dialogue this book is very helpful.
It gradually leads the reader into a deeper understanding of four main aspects of
dialogue - listening, respecting, suspending and voicing and gives helpful exercises
- particularly good are the questions that are most helpful for self-reflection.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By William D Kerr on 9 May 2001
Format: Hardcover
Do you know the difference between Conversation and Deliberation? Do you understand how to enter into real Dialogue and not the wastefulness that passes as 'Debate' or the sterility of 'Dialectic'? This excellent contribution to Communications in Business should be read by every manager who aspires to Leadership. I wonder how many Politicians would be enlightened enough to face the ''fundamental choice point'' where the decision between 'suspend'and 'defend' is made and be ready to drop their proverbial 'baggage'? Not in this Country anyway! Read in conjunction with Fisher and Ury's ''Getting to Yes'' will enable any manager to cope confidently with dialogue and negotiations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pete Burden on 23 Oct 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book.

It's a little hard going in some places (linking dialogue to David Bohm for example) but it's worth buying just for the earlier chapters on what goes wrong in conversations.

Later on Bill Isaacs who worked on MIT's dialogue project gives many real life experiences and case-studies as well as delving deep into how dialogue really can change the world.
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