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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 12  |   CHAPTER ONE Comparing dialogue, skilled discussion, and balanced advocacy can further our understanding of these three conversational forms as well as their contributions to what henceforth will be called conversations with intent. • Dialogue involves a process of reflection and collective inquiry. It differs from other conversational forms by offering a means for creating shared understanding that is born from multiple perspectives on an issue and disentangling the essence of choices. It is founded on (1) slowing down our thinking processes to become more aware of our mental models, (2) asking questions to explore what one doesn’t know or understand, and (3) seeking to understand what others see and understand that differs from our point of view. Dialogue takes the energy that comes from understanding differ- ent assumptions and channels it toward something never before created. The potential for thinking together emerges when our grip loosens on personal positions, allowing new possibilities to emerge, possibilities that might otherwise not have been given the space to develop. In conjunction with skilled discussion, dialogue offers the ECE field a means for going be- yond assumptions and beliefs historically saturated with disagreements and imagining new options for achieving common purpose. • Skilled discussion helps dialogue move to action. Typical discussions revolve around sharing one’s perspectives, providing an exchange of information. When skilled discussion is used in conjunction with dialogue, however, a conversation can move from exploring underlying causes and assumptions to reaching closure. The primary distinction between dialogue and discussion is intention. Dia- logue is about exploration, discovery, and insight. Skilled discussion, although reliant on dialogue, shifts conversations toward closure and agreement. • Balanced advocacy involves speaking for one’s point of view. When not balanced, it’s often associated with a speaker’s attempts to persuade others to accept her or his viewpoint and typically presumes the “rightness” of the position being advocated. While change processes require passionate ad- vocates, passion can be polarizing, especially when advocates are not open to rethinking their viewpoints. When a stance excludes those not sharing the position being advocated, others can become defensive and feel pushed COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL