The DNA Of Dialogue

Communication is a basic activity in our lives. Every word we speak is a form of dialogue.

As leaders we aim for great communication which leads to deeper connections, but most of us get in trouble when we don’t listen to one another.

Too often we speak at each other or past each other or tune each other out.

The problem may lay in the fact that we don’t know what it takes to have a meaningful dialogue.

The chit chat, the noise, the transference that is going on around us is all so distracting.

Are we really listening to each other?
Are we paying as close attention as we should?
Do we understand the heart of listening?
Are we engaging in meaningful exchanges?

What we seem to be missing is the nucleus; the DNA of dialogue. We need to find its meaning.

We need to understand that applying emotional intelligence to our conversations is a sure way for leaders and organizations to accomplish what “talking” cannot achieve, and what conversations are not accomplishing.

DNA of dialogue is about listening.

Listening is about paying attention with intention.

It means not just listening to the words, but listening to the unspoken words, to the space where silence resides.

Meaningful dialogue involves listening with empathy and searching for common ground.

It’s about learning to listen from inside out. Listening can transform any conversation once we learn that there is more than meets the ear.

DNA of dialogue is about respecting.

Respect makes space for us to hear what others are feeling and thinking.

When you respect others they respond. They respond by letting their thoughts and voice to be heard. “I learn from you as I allow you to speak”. Respect permits my mind to be open and my heart to hear.

Meaningful dialogue requires that all the participants have equal standing, and that they listen with respect and empathy.

DNA of dialogue is about suspending.

Suspending is exploring new ideas and perspectives, and bringing unexamined assumptions into the open without judgment.

Suspending makes room for where something is and where something is becoming.

It’s not about being right or wrong, or better or worse. Meaningful dialogue happens when we suspend our opinions, step back, change direction and see with new eyes.

DNA of dialogue is about feelings.

Feelings are at the heart of every good conversation and relationship. Feelings like passion and pride, silence and silliness, let us know that we are alive.

Failure to acknowledge our feelings derails us from having meaningful dialogue.

If we do not express our feelings, we run the risk of our feelings leading the conversation. Unexpressed feelings make it difficult for us to listen to others. When we feel our feelings we learn to understand others and gain insight into ourselves.

DNA of dialogue is about voicing.

Voicing is about asking open ended questions, instead of wanting to persuade and get our way.

Perhaps we should permit another to speak, to question, and to reason. Maybe we could voice our compassion and concerns. Meaningful dialogue is aimed at fostering mutual insight and common purpose.

By voicing care, we may hear from another and we may learn something significant that changes the way we process problems.

The fact is that people who learn the DNA of Dialogue have a new approach for dealing with the most challenging conversations. It provides both a deeper and heightened sense of freedom and flexibility in difficult communication.

The profound power of meaningful dialogue achieved is by harnessing the best of the collective thinking.

It becomes a whole, instead of the voice of one. It becomes the voice of many that are working on the problem, situation or circumstance.

LEAD FROM WITHIN: No matter where you stand in life, learning and leveraging the DNA of Dialogue will help with all human relationships and leadership.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Simon

    22. Jan, 2012

    What a great post Lolly, and a wonderful theme to follow on from Mary Jo Asmus blog post.

    I interact with so many people from varied cultures and backgrounds at work that it is of the utmost importance to be attuned to as much of the DNA of dialogue as I can. For me without continual practice and training of self awareness it is hard to listen and hear with all senses.

    This is where leading from within comes up trumps, as it offers a wonderful proximity warning to being judgmental (listening with a closed mind). For me, listening without judgment, with an open mind and empathically, is critical to getting to the structure of dialogue, to its DNA and understanding.

    As you point out, communication (dialogue) is complex and has many forms, especially in the non verbal category. Working on understanding and reading the DNA of dialogue is not only important, but critical to good leadership. (Just look at the sad communication issues this past week on the cruise ship)

    Certainly for me over the past year taking part in your weekly #leadfromwithin tweetchat on Tues 8pm allows great opportunity to train, learn and practice looking at the DNA of dialogue and I look forward to continuing to learn, listen and lead from within with you in the future.

    We are each so very unique in our DNA of dialogue. Truly understanding each other is a life long journey of learning, adapting to change, and finding the flow. Perhaps this quote from Miles Davis puts it best for me: “If you understood everything I said, you’d be me.”

    Reply to this comment
  2. Dr. Ada

    22. Jan, 2012

    Hello Lolly, Thanks for another great post. I’m totally committed to learning every day more about dialogue and to facilitating its practice among leaders. What I love best about dialogue is the way it can connect us through meaningful conversations.

    Thanks for providing a space where many voices can contribute to a rich dialogue.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      24. Jan, 2012

      Dr Ada,

      Yes dialogue is about connecting through meaningful conversation.

      Thanks for your insightful and thoughtful comment.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Lisa Tener

    24. Jan, 2012

    Many of us have grown up in a way that inhibits the factors you talk about–for me, my family always talked over each other and only in my adult life have I realized that my habits preclude true listening.

    Not easy to change old habits and I was struck by your point about “suspending.” I think, for those of us for which “not listening” is a habit, suspending can help us break that habit. Once we suspend, we can be truly present to ourselves and others.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      24. Jan, 2012

      Most people think they are great listeners.

      It takes a courageous person to say to another. YOU DO NOT LISTEN TO ME. and if that person is open and is self reflective they just might want to do something about it.

      But first it starts with awareness and willingness to change. Hence the habit can be addressed.
      Once you are aware… then… listening, respecting, suspending, voicing come into play.

      Thanks for sharing and thanks for stopping by.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Daniel F

    25. Jan, 2012

    Love what you wrote here and agree with all. I wrote a lot about this in my book Consider. See the section on “Public Reflection”

    Reply to this comment
  5. Gina

    28. Jan, 2012

    Fabulous article. You make some really great points about the lost art of LISTENING. It is so important in both business and personal relationships! Thanks.

    I’m going to share it with my communication group on Linkedin. We’d love to have you join us there as well.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Will

    27. May, 2012

    Great post Lolly.

    Too often we hear spoken words but we don’t always “listen” to what is being said.

    Listening is truly the first step in the communications process – without listening there is no communications channel established and no message transacted. Without a channel or message there is ultimately no receiver.

    Thanks for posting.

    Reply to this comment

    19. Dec, 2016

    Hello All,
    As a junior leader ( this is what I call to myself not because my age but the experiences I have about leadership) I am also trying to improve my self about listening before speaking. I realised that when I don’t have much more time I may interrrup the speech of the speaker. Or when I think that he/she will tell me about the information that I have already known. There are some other reasons too and I have to keep learning and trying.
    Thanks to Lolly about the most and best articles, shadings and etc. Be sure that you reach to lots of people’s hearts.

    Reply to this comment

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