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Dialogic attitude – I am philanthropic and remember to reciprocate

A state of mind that makes one ready to engage in dialogue can be seen and heard in interaction as a dialogic attitude. This attitude is philanthropic, and the person remembers to reciprocate. Dialogic attitude can be consciously learned. Learning requires observing, consciously reflecting on, evaluating and self-regulating one's behaviour and actions. The actions that demonstrate dialogic attitude include the following:

  • symmetrical participation
    • active participation and encouragement for it
    • letting go of egocentricity
  • respect for self and others
  • reciprocal activity, trust
    • engagement in dialogue
    • open, sincere expression.

Example situation

You face a group of students or other participants who are overly individualistic, immersed in their own world, refuse to react; they either talk aggressively or not at all, and are scornful and indifferent towards each other. Their attitude towards learning and collaborative knowledge construction is, “I could not care less”. How to engage such a group and make them participate? How to get them to observe, consciously reflect on, evaluate and self-regulate their behaviour and actions so that these will develop to be dialogic and learning-oriented?

The following methods will help you develop a learning community, where ever it may be situated. Listen to the dialogue scene of the web service “Deep Learning through Dialogue” that is mentioned in connection with each method, because listening deepens your understanding of the method. The methods will help participants learn symmetric participation, active participation, engagement to work, either by oneself or together with others; to care about others, to work in a reciprocal manner, to express oneself openly and sincerely and to respect self and others. Participants learn to observe, consciously reflect on, evaluate, and self-regulate their behaviour and actions. You can start to create a safe atmosphere and mutual trust, a so-called dialogical container, by using dialogic methods for getting to know one another. These methods include Spontaneous participation, Cultural scripts, Giving presents and Perspectives (Dialogical warm-up methods).

Dialogic attitude as a cornerstone for actions

While you learn to observe, consciously reflect on, evaluate and self-regulate your behaviour and actions, pay attention to the following matters:

  • symmetry → I listen as much as I speak
  • active participation → I participate in a dialogue instead of withdrawing
  • letting go of egocentricity → I am only one of the participants in a dialogue
  • engagement → I will not abandon the dialogue even when a difficult situation occurs
  • reciprocity, trust → I react in a sensitive manner (have a sensitive antenna); in practice this can be seen in the small things that I do that show respect towards others and that prove that I take them into account; I take everyone into account and will not neglect anyone or leave anyone in trouble
  • open, honest expression → I share my thinking according to the requirements of the situation – without ulterior motives
  • respecting oneself and others → my facial expressions, gestures and speech show that I respect myself and others – that is, I am aware that we have an equal value as human beings.

With the help of methods that deal with dialogic attitude, the participants not only get to know one another, but also prepare themselves for dialogue and dialogue-based knowledge creation. They are more likely than ever to be able to think and create knowledge in collaboration with others, in a reciprocal and philanthropic manner, and in various communities.

Method 1: Symmetrically
The goal is to learn how to participate in dialogue and knowledge creation in a symmetrical manner. This means a balanced participation where a participant both shares their own thinking and listens as the others share theirs. One takes space to express one's thinking and gives space for others to express theirs in equal measure.
Method 2: As equals
The goal is to learn to understand what it means to establish a relationship of equals (as opposed to unequals) with another person. The objective is to understand that every person has the same value as human beings. This means that everyone has a right to think as they do and to express their thoughts. Freedom to share one's thinking as an equal member of the group is a central principle of dialogue and dialogue-based knowledge creation. When one has an insight into the same value of every individual and the significance of equality, one knows how to value oneself and others. This means that one respects oneself and others.
Method 3: Monitoring my body language
The goal is to learn to become aware of one's body language and recognize the messages it sends. This means a skill to see and hear oneself – to monitor oneself – as if through the eyes of another person. Monitoring one's body language ought to be done regularly so that one learns to recognize one's habits and mannerisms and, if necessary, to develop them so that they show respect towards others.
Method 4: Reciprocally
The goal is to learn how to act in a reciprocal manner when engaged in dialogue and collaborative knowledge creation. The objective is to awaken oneself to reciprocity and to be able to act in a way that demonstrates reciprocity.
Method 5: Without ulterior motives
The goal is to learn how to express one's thinking openly and sincerely while engaged in dialogue and collaborative knowledge creation. The objective is to learn to talk about one's personal views and opinions. This is how participants learn to contribute to the dialogue and collaborative knowledge creation with their own, unique way of seeing things. Another objective of the task is to get novel ideas from the others.