On March 14th, ESADE Alumni and ESADE Executive Education held ''Dialogue as a management tool'', a talk by professor Sira Abenoza of the Social Science Department at ESADE Business & Law School.
Marta Cercós (Lic&MBA 96), head of the ESADE Alumni Career Service and membership benefits, introduced the event and asked the audience to introduce themselves to the persons sitting next to them in order to encourage alumni networking.
Sira Abenoza began by walking silently amongst the audience. As she explained later, ''dialogue begins by looking at the person in front of us and seeing what they say without speaking because dialogue is a shared experience, a journey into the unknown.''
As a CSR consultant, Abenoza has always advised companies to foster dialogue with stakeholders but although people agree, she has realized over the years that they do not know how to dialogue. ''Society has shown that there are only two ways of relating dialectically: by means of debate or monologues. Debate is boxing ring where we try to win, whilst monologues are used to pour out thoughts and emotions. However, despite being a very powerful business management tool, there is a distinct lack of dialogue because we have no framework. No one explains what’s involved and we’re always in a hurry,'' she said.
By way of an example, Sira asked two volunteers from the audience to step up and talk about the independence of Catalonia from two opposite stances. The idea was to show that the aim of a debate is to win, not to become more open-minded or to learn or change opinions. The debating viewpoint is one of resistance and a refusal to listen, a stance of ''I only want to talk.''
The parties in a dialogue, however, open up to each other in order to share their worlds and expand their personality. They share their experience in search of common meanings and to do something involving them both: to understand. She then asked another volunteer to step up and engage in a dialogue about his ideas and emotions about the concept of fear. The exchange between them enabled them to work together to construct ideas and thoughts in which they both felt that they were listened to, understood and, in a way, enabled by the other person’s thoughts.
This demonstration showed how dialogue takes place and the professor recalled the need to start practicing immediately. ''The problem is that if we do not encourage dialogue, our colleagues or employees will not tell us what they think and will not be held accountable for their actions and we will miss out on knowledge about each one of us,'' she said. Sira Abenoza outlined several reasons for promoting dialogue in companies: it facilitates collaboration, change, decision-making, definition of values, moral coherence, mental health, humaneness, ethical behaviour, exchange of knowledge and innovation.
But the main obstacle to dialogue is fear. “It is difficult for us to speak and reveal our weaknesses, we are afraid to reveal our vulnerability in case we are judged or hurt, admitted the speaker.
This is why in our mind we must leave room for silence, be able to set our opinions aside, stir curiosity and remember that the other party is also able to think and listen. ''In our heart we will find patience, flexibility, humility, sincerity and a lack of embarrassment. It is up to us to stop being lazy, to be brave, to ignore our preconceived ideas, to work as a team and to help others. We all know more than we think and we need others to help us discover all this potential. To achieve this, we must trust and dare. Give ourselves an opportunity,'' ended the speaker.
ESADE Alumni invites you to a Refresher Programme workshop, ''Dialogue. A management method'', by Sira Abenoza, professor in the Department of Social Sciences at ESADE Business & Law School.
Social responsibility is a reflection of the need for dialogue with stakeholders. A responsible company is a company that engages with its environment. But, do we know how to enter into dialogue? Has anyone taught us? Society seems to be more interested in struggling with and discussing ideas than in listening to and understanding other people. Being at the helm of a responsible company calls for the ability to listen to workers, subcontractors, customers, suppliers – and society as a whole. Our capacity for dialogue depends on our competitiveness and our ability to innovate. This talk will give an insight into dialogue as a management technique.
Sira Abenoza is a professor in the Department of Social Sciences at ESADE Business & Law School, where she teaches Socratic Dialogue and Social Responsibility. The Socratic Dialogue course for law students won the ESADE Innovation Award of 2015. The course taught in prison was the subject of a documentary that won the Valladolid Film Festival Best Documentary Award, Seminci 2015 (http://www.ccma.cat/tv3/alacarta/sense-ficcio/filosofia-a-la-preso/video/5562828/).
Abenoza is also a researcher in ESADE's Institute for Social Innovation, where she has recently published two books about CSR: ‘La RSE ante el espejo': an analysis of the evolution of CSR in recent years and an insight into the CSR movement and its future (http://www.slideshare.net/ESADE/libro-la-responsabilidad-social); and ‘Colaboraciones ONG y Empresa que transforman la sociedad’: new ways in which NGOs and companies can work together to achieve maximum social impact (http://es.slideshare.net/ESADE/estudio-colaboraciones-ong-y-empresa-que-transforman-la-sociedad).
Sira is the founder of the Institute for Socratic Dialogue (ISD) whose international dialogue projects aim to foster responsible management. The dialogue she implemented in Northern Ireland was embodied in the documentary In Dialogue (https://vimeo.com/193690507). ISD is currently developing dialogue strategies for the private sector in Central America and the public authorities of the Solomon Islands.
Each member may bring a maximum of one guest.
See you there!
How to get to ESADE:
Public transport: Bus (22, 64, 78, 63 and 75), Metro (L3 Maria Cristina) and FGC (L6 Reina Elisenda).
Car: NEW municipal parking B: SM in c / Marqués de Mulhacen, 51.
For further information: