Every so often, someone triggers a great discussion. My good friend Jon Thorne who loves to question things triggered this recent discussion with the following question. Is conversation the most powerful way to share knowledge or the best barrier to knowledge sharing?
Just browsing the discussion and reflecting on the topic, it seems to me that there are a whole range of conversational styles from chit--chat to dialogue to debate to emotional argument. Each of these styles can lead to learning though the learning is heavily influenced by the context of the relationship - in particular how well people trust each other.
But in general:
- Chit-chat builds relationships.
- Dialogue reveals assumptions, surfaces new ideas etc
- Debate determines the truth of a subject but can too easily get emotional and lead to argument.
- Argument is about winning or losing. In the context of a strong relationship it is not too harmful but lacking that trust, relationships can be so easily destroyed.
So yes,conversation, if it turns to argument can be a barrier to sharing knowledge..
But take a look at the discussion - its quite far ranging with contributions from Nancy Dixon and Nick Milton.