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Modified: Sunday, Apr 27th, 2014

When we converse with another person, at home or at work, we call the conversation a dialogue or a discussion. However, these two words mean totally different things, and pointing out those differences might help you communicate better with the people close to you.

Dialogue comes from the Greek word dialogos, dia meaning through, and logos meaning the word. So a dialogue is something that we build together through our words.

Discussion comes from the Latin discussus, which means a shaking. The root “cuss” word appears in percussion, and concussion adding the element of striking, or breaking up. I think of people having discussions as bantering back and forth, waiting for their turn to talk. There is no “build together” to a discussion.

To improve your communication, focus on building dialogues. Here’s how:

• Face, look at and listen to those with whom you’re talking. Really listen, and let them know you hear them.

• Pick up where they left off and build on it. You don’t have to agree with everything, just something.

• Emphasize the places where you agree before exploring the differences.

• Eliminate “Yes, but…” from your vocabulary. Nobody even hears the “yes” in it anyway. Try using “Yes, and…” instead.

• For fun and practice, try playing a group improv game like “Who’s Line is It, Anyway?” Build a sentence, or even a story, one person saying one word at a time.

Having a dialogue with someone will leave you both feeling like you put something into it, and got something out of it. That’s good communication.

Chris Waugh is a business consultant who focuses on management and professional development. Visit ChrisWaugh.com or Facebook.com/ChrisWaughOnTheFly for more information.

For the complete article see the 04-16-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-16-2014 paper.

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