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2005: Issue 25

Dialogue vs. Conversation

Some of you already know that Dr. Dave is a word aficionado, often able to easily reference a word’s origin, and thus, relationship to many other common (and not so common) words.  He and I have had many discussions about the power of words, as he often exposes me to the subtle distinctions that through common usage have been diminished. 

Recently, I read a article suggesting, in essence that our world would be a better place if we engaged in genuine dialogue — with each other and with the universe (Shift, Vol. 9, 2005).  Made sense to me, yet with Dr. Dave riding on my shoulder, I thought why dialogue and not conversation?  Particularly since one of the top selling books in the field of management these days is Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny..., 2002.  So I turned to my American Heritage Dictionary, and learned that indeed there is a subtle distinction between the two....

Conversation is defined as an informal spoken exchange versus dialogue as an exchange of ideas and opinions.  Subtle, indeed.  My take away is that most of the time we are merely conversing — whether it is with someone else, yourself or “something” else. The daily exchanges about the weather; the activities of the day; the asking of how are you with the automatic response, “good, you”, even if you really feel like ####.  The truth is that most of the time, merely conversing is what is appropriate for the moment. 

Yet, are we missing opportunities for dialogue? Where we are fully present;  receptive to others ideas, and opinions; trusting that we may not like what we hear or say and that is okay; allowing for that heartfelt disclosure — ours or theirs; seeking clarification; suspending judgment.  It is in dialogue where progress occurs — with or with out decisions being made. Minimally, the progress is walking away agreeing that we just may not understand each other yet have heard the other.  At best, we leave more enlightened, having connected with heart and mind, and even made a decision that is far better than the one we individually had made. 

The conditions of the healthcare industry and on a larger scale, our society, make it even more difficult to have a dialogue, and at the same time, even more critical.  I contend that patients want to dialogue with their health professionals: to exchange opinions and ideas; to have you truly listen — more perceptively, more deeply.  Yes, dialogue takes more time; more so, it takes more conscious attention and intention.  And the result is well worth the investment.        

Our lives our often full of conversations, especially at this time of year as we gather with friends and family to celebrate.  We will exchange casual greetings, catch up on happenings and leave wishing the other health and happiness.  Conversation has its place and value.  Commit to adding dialogue to your live and relationships, allowing yourself to engage all of your “...faculties — intellectual, imaginative, aesthetic, moral, emotional, somatic, spiritual, relational — (and) enter the process of our knowing.” (Richard Tarnas, Ph.D.; Shift, No. 9, page 37)

Distinguishing between dialogue and conversation merely serves to remind us that only when we find and capitalize on opportunities for dialogue will we make  progress—in our own lives and in our world. 

1. Find time every day to have at least one dialogue.  By doing so, you will realize the power and find yourself having many during the course of the day.
2. During the holidays, give your spouse, your child, your parent or other special person in your life the gift of dialogue.

ABOUT Extra Ordinary Living

Taking their learning from 20+ years in corporate healthcare, Janet Crawford and David Scheiderer, MD formed Extra Ordinary Living, Inc. in 2003 with an intention of helping physicians, other healthcare professionals and their organizations identify possibilities and opportunities, remove obstacles, and ultimately, optimize results.

Usually the first question we are asked, is why Tiberius? Our trivia friends usually can identify the references……yes, Tiberius was the 2nd Roman emperor, and yes, Tiberius is the middle name of James T. Kirk from Star Trek. One of our life mottos and business principles is “to learn from the past, look to the future but live in the present;” thus, Extra Ordinary Living.

As Executive and Professional Coaches, we are trained to listen, to observe and to customize our approach to our client's needs. We provide tools, support, structure and accountability to help our clients unleash their full potential and optimize results. There are so many reasons for physicians in particular to feel disenchanted with their chosen profession, their calling. Having a coach helps them get back in touch with their passion for being a healer.

The best thing about coaching is that it is all about you and what you want. We may share our opinions and give you advice, but it is up to you to pick and choose what you want to accept. We suspend judgment and will support you in your decisions.

As Professional Speakers, our messages are inspirational while imparting useful, practical and memorable information in a fun and dynamic way to help you in your pursuit of authentic happiness, and the enjoyment of deep life experiences.  

David Scheiderer, MD, MBA
Executive Coach

Janet Crawford, MHA, MBA
Executive Coach

Tiberius Rx ... written for physicians and those who love them, work with them, or befriend them, and want to explore, experience and excel in all aspects of their life.

"Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while."
– Kin Hubbard
"What great delight it is to see the ones we love and then to have speech(dialogue) with them."
– Vincent McNabb,


Janet is pleased to announce that the International Coaching Federation has deemed her worthy of the PCC, Professional Coaching Certification.  She successfully completed a three part exam, in addition to completing her formal training and over 750 hours of coaching.