Dialogue by putting something in the middle

Dialogue is a reflective conversation engaging the multiple perspectives of a number of people to explore assumptions and create new meaning. Create dialogue by putting objects in the middle of amediated conversation. Meaning becomes projected onto the object. Images work very well. You can use photos, art, stories, Visual Explorer and other Explorer tools, mementos, videos, graphics, and so on.

When people get good at this, they don’t need a physical object—they can put a topic (a challenge, a problem, an idea) in the middle.

As the Star Model graphic illustrates, multiple layers of the topic are explored from many angles (multiple perspectives).

Try This

Visual Explorer™ supports dialogue by using images as a source of visual metaphors.
1. Each person selects images in relation to a focal question.
2. Describe the image itself.
3. Say what you think the image means from your
perspective, in relation to the focal question.
4. Each person in the dialogue then describes and interprets
the image from their own perspective.
5. What new meaning can you build from all the images?


Find more Leadership Essentials for Change™ here.

Palus, C. J., & McGuire, J.B. (2015). Mediated dialogue in action research. In H. Bradbury (Ed.) The SAGE handbook of action research, 3rd Edition. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications. 691-699.

Palus, C.J., & Drath, W.H. (2001). Putting something in the middle: An approach to dialogueReflections. 3(2), 28-39.


About Charles J. Palus & David Magellan Horth

Charles J. Palus & David Magellan Horth are Senior Fellows at the Center for Creative Leadership. Many thanks to Steadman Harrison III, CEO of GO Innovation.com, and Senior Associate for the Center for Creative Leadership.
This entry was posted in Boundary Explorer™, Early Leadership Toolkit™, Emotions Explorer™, Leadership Essentials™ for Change, Leadership Metaphor Explorer™, Transformations™, Values Explorer™, Visual Explorer™, Wisdom Explorer™. Bookmark the permalink.

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