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Dialogue-Driven Development is about Listening

Posted by Sat, 26 Aug 2006 00:11:00 GMT

3 comments Latest by Stephen Waits Sat, 26 Aug 2006 17:23:04 GMT

I know. I know. I recently wrote that Dialogue-Driven Development was about rounded corners. It just happens that I also think that d3 is more than that. d3 is focuses on the conversations between various stakeholders within a project.

What is dialogue?
an exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue, esp. a political or religious issue, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement1.


What is a conversation?
informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy2


Let’s focus on a really important side of the conversation, which is the art of listening.

In Information Anxiety 2, Richard Saul Wurman lists five tips for being a better listener.

  1. “Having two ears and one tongue, we should listen twice as much as we speak.”
  2. “Don’t try to formulate your reply when the other person is speaking.”
  3. “The person who starts a sentence should be the one to finish it.”
  4. “Don’t let your fear of silence propel you to fill it with air. A moment of silence can be the most revealing part of a conversation.”
  5. “Remember that listening is not a passive endeavor, but an activity that requires great energy. Try to listen with the same intensity you use to talk.”

The Value in Face to Face

It’s been a while since we at PLANET ARGON have started working on a project that we didn’t get a chance to meet face to face with the client. For projects that we know will involve a lot of dialogue, it’s an absolute must at the beginning of the project. This is exactly why Brian and I fly across the country to meet our clients in person.

Wurman writes, “Time and time again, studies have shown that the best communication occurs face to face.”

“Precision of communication is important, more important than ever, in our era of hair-trigger balances, when a false, or misunderstood word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act.” – James Thurber

Our team is still shaping how best to encourage and facilitate valuable patterns of dialogue with our clients. One aspect we are certain of is that all interactions should be clearly documented, including the subtleties of body language and how the client’s team works together.

Two Ears, One Mouth

There are many benefits to having two ears. We should all try to listen more. I’ll be the first to admit that this is one of the most difficult things to do, especially when you’re opinionated.

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” -Epictetus

The next time we find ourselves in the middle of a conversation, let’s try to listen more. :-)

1 http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=dialogue

2 http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=conversation

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  1. Avatar
    JP Tremblay Sat, 26 Aug 2006 15:48:51 GMT

    Wow, listen to your clients? What a fuckin brilliant revelation. WOW. SO INSIGHTFUL.

    I’ve never seen someone use so many words to say so little. Ironically, this is pretty much running your mouth just to hear yourself talk.

  2. Avatar
    Reagan Sat, 26 Aug 2006 16:13:01 GMT

    Thanks for reminding people to shut up and listen more often. Opinionated people often get so attached to their ideas that they begin to filter out what the other person is saying.

  3. Avatar
    Stephen Waits Sat, 26 Aug 2006 17:23:04 GMT

    Ummm…. dude. Seriously. Make it stop.