Thursday, September 25, 2008

the perfect dialogue

Early on, Descartes thought about things like the "perfected language." The rhetoric was about efficiency in communication, at large. This is a scholarly philosophy about signs, symbols, and other things linguistic that are far too logical for my fuzzy thinking. What I think is interesting though, is its extension to the perfect conversation or perfect dialogue. 

Can we come up with rules for a good dialogue? Rules may be a bit restrictive... how about governing principles to frae your conversational strategies? And, importantly, let's focus on The Enterprise DIalogue. 

Grice had something to say about this. A linguist, of course, he derived 4 conversational maxims, under the assumption that conversation is rooted in cooperation. Quality, Quantity, Relation, and Manner. In laymen's terms: you should always talk about true things you can support, keeping your objectives in mind, not giving too much information; and, you should be relevant, clear, and organized. 

These are helpful and clearly could make for an efficient exchange. But efficiency may not be what people (i.e. consumers) are looking for in the context of engagement with an enterprise (i.e. brand, lifestyle, etc.). What do they want? Involvement? Information? Inspiration? Maybe a good conversation is a goal per se? Do people simply want to be engaged in a rewarding conversation?

How could we evolve these maxims?

I might expand Quality to Authenticity. Quantity may not be as much of a priority, although frequency of participation (persistence) is key. Relation might be more about customization-- being relevant today means coming across as attentive and responsive to the idiosyncratic needs of your constituent base. Lastly, manner is huge-- transparency is critical. Be open and transparent with respect to what you know and don't know-- and importantly, what you know thus far about what you don't know. This latter component is really the hallmark of transparency in my mind. 

Now, how do we weave in the role of a compelling story?

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