The quest to determine who is right and who is wrong is what leads you to a ‘dead-end’ in a ‘critical dialogue’. What can you possibly do to avoid reaching there?
Practice empathy – put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It so easy to end a critical dialogue or conversation feeling how irrational the other person has been, without even you considering the situation from their perspective. You must learn to accept that each individual is different and comes with different perspectives; therefore, it is normal for them to have completely different viewpoints and conclusions. Differences are often the result of each individual being exposed to different levels of information and knowledge. It’s therefore in your best interest to avoid being offended by someone who disagree with you and put your energy in finding out whether the other person knows something that you don’t know yet.
Assume good intentions – You must try and avoid assuming that the other person has ill intentions and hidden agendas, especially against you. For example if your friend points out that “you look very tired”, they just are possibly looking out for your good health and well-being. Don’t take it as an insult. Isn’t it the same when you receive feedback from your parents about some things they wish you would change? They care for you and therefore are taking the risk as well to provide you with critical feedback. Don’t always assume the worst intentions of the other person when you are engaged in a critical dialogue.
Stop blaming – If someone misunderstands you in a heated conversation, it may not be solely their fault. You need both hands to clap, don’t you? Take time to identify how each person has contributed to the critical dialogue and take responsibility for working through the situation together, so that you can come to a mutual understanding and agreement.
Try and ask yourself the following questions about the dialogue turning ‘critical’
• Where did start?
• How did you and the other person contribute to the situation?
• What can you do to move the dialogue forward?
It might just stop you from hitting a ‘dead-end’ in a ‘critical dialogue’