Dialogue is a fabulous communication tool. It allows for clarity of understanding, closure and complete communication. When you think about it that way, you’d think — why wouldn’t I want to use it?
Think of the finest motor car you can think of — whatever one comes to mind for you is fine — for our purposes I’ll pick a Bentley. While I’ve not driven one, one can assume that the ride, comfort and amenities are second to none. Who wouldn’t want to drive that car all the time?
Well — I wouldn’t want to drive it in the woods or a muddy field. For that I’d want my pickup truck. And I might not want to drive it in a seedy part of town or in an area with very narrow streets. For that I would want something less splashy (and expensive) and smaller.
Even the best tools aren’t perfect for every job.
As I said, dialogue is a fabulous communication tool, but it isn’t the perfect tool always.
If you are in a hurry, distracted, or aren’t invested in the topic, conversation or other person/people … don’t aim for dialogue. Perhaps more importantly, when that is the case, don’t talk about the need for dialogue! If the topic is relatively simple, less conversation may be required. If the topic could have been handled in email, well, why move to dialogue?
When you can and will invest in the topic, other people and the results; take the time and make the effort to create dialogue. You can do that by stopping all other activities, really listening, asking questions curiously, allowing people to finish, keeping a (really) open mind and more.
Build your competence and confidence with the tool, then use it appropriately. When you do that you are becoming a more effective — and remarkable — communicator and leader.