Dialogue and debate. Distinguishing the two has been one of the most crucial growth and learning experiences for me this far. While similar in context, these two types of conversing hold drastically different types of outcomes. Debate lacks a crucial part of dialogue-one that promotes mutual respect as well as a desire for understanding; and that’s active listening on both sides. Not to be confused with passive listening, which is only hearing what the speaker is saying, active listening is paying deeper attention to what the speaker is saying and showing that you are dedicated to listening to the point they are trying to make. There is something about knowing that a person is truly listening to your opinions and thoughts in order to further their understanding that promotes an atmosphere of mutual respect-and this ultimately creates a safe place for open conversation and exchange of ideas.
There have been a few situations in my internship this summer that I’ve seen both dialogue and debate, and I feel that the few times I have seen debate have led to conflict, hurt feelings, or disrespect. For the most part, the PILOT summer committee is more surrounded by dialogue and trying to understand the points that everyone is trying to make. It’s because of this atmosphere that I’m beginning to learn the drastic distinction between the two, and am trying to always be a person of dialogue rather than debate.