• Claire Barham

Dialogue (Part 1) - Giving Birth to an Idea

Updated: May 10

The VividWord Podcast

Welcome to the first blog post of the VividWord Podcast! This series' aim is to explore how to get better at dialogue in all spheres of communication.

In order to know where to even start in the broad topic of communication, we asked the question, "What's universal about communication?" And our answer is that verbal communication is something that always has, and always will, exist.

In light of that, our big question is;

How can understanding communication give us a better grasp on how to relate to people in our daily lives?

  • Dialogue- Finding ___* through talking (*logic, meaning, ideas etc.)

  • Conversation- The idea of turning something (logic, ideas) around to examine it with someone else.

  • Discussion- To shake something apart.

  • Maieutics- A word for the Socratic method of teaching by asking questions. Related to midwifery; the socratic process of helping someone birth an idea.

  • Communication; The process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.

When Things Get Complicated

The Communication Cycle;

All of these definitions help us get to the root of what is happening when we talk to one another. At its core, it is idea sharing- we don’t just talk to hear ourselves talk; talking is trying to get something out of our heads and into a moldable form for common understanding. Like the definition of maieutics, its the process of helping one another "give birth" to our own ideas.

And while that may sound simple, it’s actually pretty complicated! An entire scientific process called the communication cycle has to occur any time two people engage in conversation. This isn’t a linear process, but an interactive one.

The root of idea sharing is thinking, which is in the mind. We have to take what's happening in our own minds (ideas), and turn those ideas into messages, which get taken into another person’s mind, and that new mind has to process your ideas, and figure out how to respond to them.

Not only are all of these complicated mental processes going on, but there are internal and external factors that get in the way of our ability to communicate. It's not simply a linear back and forth exchange of messages. The communication cycle is difficult, because even what we intend to say can come out differently than expected, and other people's reactions to our words are unpredictable. Their body language and tone alone can change how our message comes out.

To put it another way, our verbal messages are alive in space. They can change and shift in so many ways that we never could have anticipated.

Grammar and Definitions;

Our definitions of words are also never the exact same, which further complicates things. The challenge is lessened if you’re talking with someone who has a similar geographical and even personal background as you do. But still, if you engage in conversation with someone and never figure out whether important words hold the same meaning for both of you, whether you’re using the same grammar rules, and paying attention to one another’s body language...some serious confusion can happen.

Wrapping it up

The communication cycle is anything but simple, and we have a big task in our daily lives to navigate conversations with dozens of people.

It can all feel pretty overwhelming; but we’re in a great spot right now, because we understand that words have limitations. There is a limit to what these symbols, signs, and behaviors can do for us in relationships. We are bound to fail in countless areas of communication every single day. So rather than stress over how to get it all perfect, the thing we really need is the ability to extend grace, both to ourselves and to others.

The fact is that our huge arsenal of words will fail us. In sorrow and in joy, sometimes words aren’t sufficient. Reality can't be fully conveyed through our attempts to communicate. It's easy to believe that our own ideas (and therefore, our words) can fully determine the reality of life around us; but it just doesn’t work that way. Life is so much greater, so much more concrete, than the words we use to make sense of it.

The really powerful stuff; dreams, ideas, and meaning in general, are intangible, but words make them come alive. and a conversation is someone helping you package these things.

The point of conversation isn't to do it perfectly, but to pursue it regardless.