Conversation purposes

There are many different reasons to engage in a conversation with other researchers and/or societal actors. Whether or not engage in dialogue, and what type of dialogue to opt for, really depends on the entry-point or challenge at stake.

Dialogues are most useful for topics which are characterised by:

  • Multiple stakeholders
  • Diverse interests, assumptions and perspectives
  • No single bullet solutions
  • Un unpredictable, uncontrollable and constantly changing context

We distinguish the following purposes

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    Dialogue is a very suitable conversation form for connecting people from different backgrounds. Is the situation complex? Are relations polarised? A dialogue can be the first step towards mutual trust as a basis for further cooperation.
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    Creating shared understanding

    Establishing a degree of mutual agreement requires an open conversation where participants listen to one another and open up to each other’s perspectives. Dialogue and deliberation are suitable conversation forms for creating better mutual understanding.
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    Navigating differences and plurality

    Dissent can be as valuable as consensus: it reveals areas in which more research is needed. Dialogue, discussion and deliberation are useful conversation types to navigate differences and plurality in a safe space.
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    Converging for joint action

    At some point, ideas and problem statements need to be translated into tanglible actions. It requires conversations that generate joint energy and urgency among participants. Dialogue and discussion are powerful conversation types for transforming possibilities into action.
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    Evaluating and starting again

    As projects come to a close, it may be desirable to reflect, honour contributions made and identify lessons learned. It is also a good moment to create urgency for a new way forward. Conversation and - especially - dialogue are well suited for this purpose.
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    Sharing Insights

    Sometimes the main purpose of a conversation is to share relevant insights with participants. For instance, when a research project has gained significant and relevant results. If the purpose is ‘sending only’, seminars, conferences or policy meetings are effective forms for sharing insights.