People are communicating today at a rapid rate, connecting through participatory media. Dialogue coaches are needed to accelerate an online community’s appreciation for its ability to collaborate, acting as a tool that encourages deeper understandings of the exhibited interpersonal skills. They teach ways to uproot attitudes stuck in past experiences and downloaded assumptions, such as simply talking tough or nice. They look at how people conduct a conversation and offer alternatives and feedback, so they may redirect conversations toward more generative and reflective dialogue.
Dialogue coaches strive for deeper understandings. The term “moderator” has been used to define the role of those who accept an authoritative role in online communities, weeding out unwanted behaviors. It’s dangerous to cover up or delete opinions, since the underlying issue is never addressed. Blocking adverse opinions excites their migration to other platforms. For that reason, online collaboration requires dialogue coaches, more than moderators, to keep information sharing activities meaningful, trustworthy. Through listening, coaches learn to appreciate the influence of personality traits online, and not fight them. Correa, Hinsley and De Zuniga found increased social media use in extraverted people, and people open to new experiences (2010). Emotional instability predicted more regular use by men. Since neuroticism is linked to loneliness, it’s likely that anxious and nervous people use social-networking websites to seek support and company.
Dialogue coaches teach methods to move conversations from breakdown to breakthrough.
Dialogue coaches teach methods to move conversations from breakdown to breakthrough. Five key processes are leveraged: listening, mirroring, summarizing, questioning and catalyzing. Coaches stimulate listening to actively measure the understandings of others. They help people listen to themselves by mirroring their situations and conclusions. By summarizing conversations, they inspire people to better appreciate their positions. Questioning helps propel the process, imparting opportunities to re-examine assumptions and challenge thinking, while calling for clarity and insight. Coaches provoke comprehensive conclusions or form alternative perspectives by pointing at a situation from different viewpoints. Catalyzing conversations with passion is a critical part of creative and critical thinking.
A worthy coach will catalyze his or her relationships with others through empowerment. Dialogue coaches encourage a passion to change, alter opinions and challenge theories. They fuel an emotional charge, sparking the curiosity needed to recognize problems and inspire a sustained action to solve them. What’s more, it’s important for coaches to guide people through a creative problem-solving process. An effective coach ensures problems are well-defined, neither too narrow nor too broad, and then works to brainstorm applicable strategies. With a properly defined challenge, they help find facts, form ideas and discover solutions. What’s more, effective coaches combat the fears inhibiting creativity. They clear up crippling ambiguous and false statements.
Dialogue coaches inspire divergent over convergent thinking. He or she works to keep thoughts flexible. They help make the familiar strange, exhibiting a genuine and contagious respect for fresh interpretations and innovative ideas. They support the traits of an objective, open-minded observer, and not a protective participant. The coach encourages an acceptance of new possibilities and improved collaboration, while reducing anxiety about breaking habits. Appreciating creative solutions to problems requires a tolerance to risk, so coaches help people rationalize how both failures and successes are acceptable, each offering teachable opportunities. They promote a culture where ideas evolve and new evidence is explored. Innovation is warmly welcomed. Improving understandings through generative and reflective dialogue is the ultimate goal.
Correa, T., Hinsley, A. W., & De Zuniga, H. G. (2010). Who interacts on the web?: The intersection of users’ personality and social media use. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 247-253.