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Attitudes of dialogue


It is first of all about trusting your own words: not holding them back, not hiding them, not accumulating them, not swallowing them. What is said is said and cannot be withdrawn on the pretext that "it is not what we wanted to say". Words betray us and that is why they interest us. Words say something about us and it's about reconciling us with this "thing" when we refuse it. They also say something to others who can tell you about yourself by evaluating them.


To think we must therefore risk speaking even if we are not sure of what we are saying, we must engage in thought without fear of ridicule, error or transparency. We have to trust each other because what we say always makes sense, for us or for others, even if we don't always agree on the same meaning.

The regulated framework of philosophical dialogue in any case prevents violent reactions, unspoken attitudes, implicit attitudes and other sweeping judgments. In this you must also trust others: to question you in a desire to deepen your thinking, to object to you to clarify your assumptions, to show you the mirror of yourself without complacency or malevolence.

Be authentic

To be authentic is first of all not to hide, not to avoid reality, others or oneself. Philosophical dialogue promotes the passage to authenticity. We know well, and a fortiori in the world of work, that we each play a role in society. Some are locked into one or two roles and others have a wider panoply at their disposal.

But philosophical practice, as an exercise, is also a game. If we had to name it, it would perhaps be the game of "getting out of oneself" to see what is happening elsewhere, in this case often with others. . But by leaving ourselves we are forced to leave our role. For some it's easy, for others not so much. This is why the authentic generally set an example for others: seeing that there is nothing to lose, they begin to leave aside their usual games to enter this new game.


Descartes already said in his time that haste was the most harmful thing to conduct his thought well. In our world where everything goes very fast, where we are hyper-connected and hyper-stressed, there is a great temptation to react "on the fly" and to do everything in a hurry, supposedly to save time and get rid of one problem to deal with the next one.

At the same time there is a very powerful prejudice of the time and which seems to go beyond our borders according to which "one should not judge others".

But we do not see that to decide very quickly, to react therefore, it is necessary in spite of everything to judge. We must give value to one option rather than another and act immediately in this direction. In doing so, we spend our time making micro-judgments that are so quick and automatic that we don't even notice it anymore. some authors denounce this phenomenon, which they call cognitive biases. Although this does not generally pose too many problems, it can have catastrophic consequences in crisis situations. The example is often given of the air crash caused by the fact that the co-pilot did not dare to criticize an erroneous decision by the captain because he had the prejudice according to which: "if he is captain it is good because he must know better what he's doing than me". It is a prejudice.


In philosophical practice we make a lot of pauses on dialogue, which can also be a source of some frustration for participants who want "things to go faster" in order to examine what people are saying and to learn to listen, breathe, think before reacting. Sitting down starts by getting rid of what we call "compulsive speech" which is more about insecurity and fear than the desire to understand and get ahead. 

Sitting down allows you not to get carried away by emotion and to say things "that go beyond our thoughts"" (this expression would probably deserve more attention). However, in a dialogue in group, a fortiori when one begins to approach "the subjects which annoy" the spirits heat up quickly, the flow accelerates, the thought begins to roll on its habits and the good old automatisms begin to regain the upper hand as one can see in the "television debates" which constitute a good example of everything that should not be done in terms of dialogue.


It is therefore one of the main roles of the practitioner to demand that the participants reflect but do not react. He will do this in particular through questioning, which will often interrupt what some will call free reflection but which is more likely a discourse of nervousness. By questioning the subject who tends to react, he will pick up the thread of reason and can therefore resume his place in the dialogue, consciousness in addition.

To confront

To confront oneself is to encounter an otherness. Thought being an encounter with something other than itself (a subject who thinks an object), the confrontation is inherent in thought. To put it another way, until you confront yourself, you don't think. This is why we need a problem to think and divert the mental flow from the slope of habits.


Several levels of confrontation are superimposed during a workshop or consultation: first there is the confrontation with one's own discourse, in particular through reformulation. Hearing someone rephrase your speech is already seeing yourself thinking and examining the meaning of our words. 


It is also confronting another subjectivity, another subject: others take hold of your words and interpret them. The meaning is now his responsibility, it escapes you but you soon discover that others have this miraculous ability to keep the meaning by changing the words. Sometimes even others will formulate your thought better than you yourself did. In this sense we can say that others always understand us better than ourselves and are essential to us. The more he is foreign to us, the more his judgment on us will be true because he will not be suspected of complacency (accomplicating friendship, love) or malevolence (jealousy, envy, rivalry).


Finally there is the confrontation with the objective problem: the question posed (what future for our company, should I resume my studies, why we are not managing to recruit the right profiles...), the conflicts to be resolved, the messages to be elucidated, attitudes to be deciphered, etc. The range of dialogue skills will be used to achieve this in a rigorous manner, a fortiori when the dialogue is collective and brings together divergent interests that will be to update.

Engage, take risks

It may seem surprising to highlight risk-taking and commitment to an activity that mainly affects thought. This would be true if it were academic philosophy. But in philosophical practice one cannot separate thought from emotion and behavior. In being everything is united, for better and for worse. But thinking requires engaging in hypotheses to see where they lead us, even if we are not sure of anything, even if we do not know the truth, even if we are not an expert or a specialist. It is clear that this costs us, especially as a group, because we are afraid of being judged. But defending a hypothesis does not require adhering to it: dialogue is not an exercise in convincing others of anything but to make them reflect on themselves and on a problem that concerns the group.

Moreover, nothing prevents supporting a hypothesis and then coming back to it to modify it, or even supporting the opposite, as in an exercise already practiced in the Middle Ages and which was called controversy (disputatio).

It is however striking to see that even when there is no immediate stake, most of us do not dare to engage in an answer to a question when it is not sure, n dare not explore the consequences of his hypothesis, dare not object to someone for fear of offending him. You must therefore learn to "let go of your shots" like in tennis, even if it means leaving the court, in order to soak up the exercise. Who knows what others will be able to do with a well-placed ball?

Laugh at yourself

Laughter is usually triggered by a surprise between what we expected from a situation and what actually happens. Laughter is therefore a form of becoming aware of a discrepancy, of a hiatus. Like any awareness, it is favored in philosophical practice. Sometimes we are laughed at, other times at others or both at the same time.

Laughing is thus taking distance with your emotions, it is a quick relaxation in a tense situation. It is a salutary faculty when very often we realize that what we are saying is absurd, empty or contradictory. We may often find ourselves silly, futile fussing over unimportant things when we don't want to see what is important.


Laughter thus makes it possible to trivialize phenomena that we overload emotionally. Saying something stupid in public, for example: what will people think of me? They will say that I am incompetent, that I have nothing to do in this place if I can say such things. Well no. Philosophical practice teaches us that before being collectively intelligent, we must above all reconcile ourselves with our individual and collective stupidity because not only is this stupidity funny, but recognizing it allows us to calm down. to think well, to be effective, fair and relevant, you have to know how to "keep a cool head when everyone else loses it" to paraphrase Kipling.

There is humility in those who know how to recognize their own stupidity, without making it a state affair.

To be present

Being present to oneself, to others and to the world seems to have become a luxury as there are so many requests to make us escape the present: worries, regrets, fears, distractions, obsession with always wanting to be aware of the latest news, compulsion to "check" our emails or "share" a publication on Facebook. Any excuse is good for escaping from the present moment, which is probably why meditation retreats find some success for overworked executives. Philosophical practice has this in common with meditative practices, and in particular the movement of mindfulness, that it invites you, even strongly encourages you, to be in the here and now. This is also an important difference with a psychological practice where the search for links in the past and the history of the subject take an important place.

Being present is made concrete by being aware of what we are saying at the moment we say it, of what others are saying, of the emotions that pass through us and through others during the dialogue. Yet reflection is also a form of distancing and escape from the immediate present. Therefore the specificity of this practice is to alternate moments of pure presence to oneself and interruption of reflection to put oneself in the pure reception of what is happening, an attitude similar to the pocket or the suspension of judgment (see also the phenomenological reduction) with moments of "meta-cognition" where one extracts oneself from the present to account for the phenomenon by reason: why did I say that, why such a person adopts such an attitude, what objection can you make to that person, etc.

In relation to others, it is a question of being on the same level as them in order to grasp what is going on, the inflections of their thought and the tone of their being, to paraphrase Heidegger. It is about seeing how others reason and resonate. In this, philosophical practice is as much an intellectual practice as an existential one: it touches on the thought, attitudes and emotions of a subject which is restored as a whole. A human.

Understanding emotions

Understanding them means recognizing them when they arise, in oneself or others, and naming them. It will then be a question of giving them meaning by explaining what they reveal, if the subject wishes to talk about it. If they are an obstacle to dialogue, it will be a question of appeasing them by the same method in order to continue the dialogue and to remain on the thin end of reason.

Emotions tell us about ourselves and it certainly makes sense to ask why at such a time we feel such and such an emotion. However, this questioning constitutes the border with psychology since the emotion will call on the personal or even intimate history of the subject: it is his responsibility to continue his journey if he wishes with a professional psychologist, but we consider that our work stops there.

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