Dialogue Trigger

by Augusto Cuginotti

Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.
Joyce Brothers

Nothing like finding a group where basic common ground emerges – interdependency is an open door for dialogue to happen. It moves us into recognizing the importance of the other and to allow space for a meeting of minds and hearts.

There are many different contexts and spaces where I saw dialogue emerging, many in unexpected ways and going to deeper and unknown directions. Trying to analyze which are the patterns that allow dialogue is tricky, pinpoint a list of “what to do” seems to be unproductive.

Undoubtedly some conditions help to make it happen: one could be to provide a space that is considered safe and where the environment is perceived as nurturing. Another, to invite people to speak from their experience rather than make general or theoretical statements. And so on – as conditions are helpful, nothing can guarantee openness to dialogue.

Yet it has been my experience that a great invitation to dialogue comes when someone in the circle opens up, show vulnerability. It’s not only a matter of relating a personal experience, it goes beyond, immediately lowering the weapons in the room, a sign of trust and a request for care.

Silence and possibility emerge from this moment. It is like sailing at the border of uncharted waters, reminding us why we wanted to become sailors in the first place – to be at this exact moment.

I have heard that the samurai would only lower his sword when entering a tea house. It was a sacred space, a time for peace and ceremony. Dialogue spaces are like tea houses – can be inviting us to lower our internal weapons and to be with others in ceremony.

To be vulnerable is to step into an unknown soil, one that is fertile for new discoveries. The journey to other lands can be done alone, but the only way we can truly see ourselves is through the eyes of others. To be vulnerable is to be vulnerable in relationship.

Showing our vulnerability in the presence of others is what makes common ground and openness to dialogical relationships, the coming together into inner sacred grounds.

There is no magic and no formula. It starts with the wise and vulnerable. It starts with me and you stepping in.