Cover image for A safe place for dangerous truths : using dialogue to overcome fear & distrust at work
A safe place for dangerous truths : using dialogue to overcome fear & distrust at work
Simmons, Annette.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : AMACOM, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 250 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
P95.455 .S5 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



No more ""checking for feet."" This illuminating guide gets people to tell the truth at the meeting - not in the bathroom afterwards. Almost everybody does it - lie, that is. In one recent survey 93% of people admitted to lying regularly at work! Why? Because it's safer than telling the truth. Sadly, organizations cannot succeed in this poisonous world of half-truths,strategic omissions, and doctored information. To function optimally, businesses must create an environment where people feel free to tell the truth, no matter how disturbing. Only then can organizations unleash the responsiveness, creativity, and enthusiasm necessary to achieve their goals. This unique book shows how, using the formal process of ""dialogue,"" such a place can be built. In a lively discussion, the author shows managers how to use this technique to encourage truth-telling by reducing fear, prompting self-examination, and opening minds * build trust where suspicion and cynicism held sway * inspire individuals to think and learn as a group * help groups talk through tough issues and move to collaborative action." "

Author Notes

Annette Simmons, M.Ed., is president of Group Process Consulting, a behavioral science firm that specializes in building cooperation within and between organizations to enhance the bottom-line. She is also the author of Territorial Games: Understanding and Ending Turf Wars at Work (AMACOM). She lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
Part 1 Dialogue Defined
1 Why Dialogue?p. 3
Shooting in the Dark
Thinking New Thoughts
The "Real Problem"
Dialogue Skills for Dangerous Truths
Learning Schmearning
Reengineering Communication
If People Were Cows
Collective Learning Disabilities
Group Self-Awareness
Collective Introspection
Shared Action
2 How Hard Can It Be?p. 15
What's the Big "D"?
Finding a Choir to Preach To
Selling Dialogue
Go Big Picture and Benefits
Remember a Time When
A Credible Process
Mapping the Mental Terrain
Making Dialogue User-Friendly
3 The Five Stages of Dialoguep. 27
Group Dynamics 101
Conflict as a Raw Material to Innovation
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
Form, Storm, Norm, and Perform With a Developmental Twist
False Clarity
4 When the Group Doesn't Wanna Go Therep. 45
Expanding Personal Responsibility
Resistance Is Natural
Sounds Like a Personal Problem
Paths of Least Resistance
The Four Group Escape Strategies
The "Flight" Avoidance Strategy
The "Fight" Avoidance Strategy
The "Pairing" Avoidance Strategy
The "Dependency" Avoidance Strategy
When the Ego Doesn't Wanna Hear It
Developing Mental Agility
The Four Individual Escape Strategies
Brain Training
Part 2 With All That Going Against You: The How-To's of Dialogue
5 Before You Beginp. 69
Cornfield and a Shotgun
Can't Make 'Em Drink
Speed Kills
Quality Can Be Inconvenient
Being There
It Takes How Long?
What Are We Going to Discuss?
6 It's All in the Setupp. 79
Setting the Climate
A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths
Dare We Hope?
Raise the Bar
I'm In
I'll Drive
Where Is It That We Are Going?
Smorgasbord of Rules
Their Process, Not Yours
7 The Goalp. 91
Soft Eyes
The Basic Group Skills of Dialogue
The Ability to See Judgments
Heretical Thinking
Curiosity to Hear Opposite Views
Personal Responsibility
8 Structure for an Unstructured Processp. 103
The Basics
Psychological Silence
Intervention of Awareness
Intervention to Facilitate New Skills
Bringing It to Closure
The Balance
Part 3 Building Blocks: Seven Basic Facilitator Skills
9 Taking the Pulse of the Groupp. 117
Background Material Will Make You Go Blind
Who Are You?
Process, Not Content
Find Their Desire
10 Taking Responsibility to Not Take Responsibilityp. 127
Retooling Basic Expectations
Creating a Vacuum of Responsibility (or Sucking Them In)
Helping Things "Get Out of Hand"
Don't Become a Load-Bearing Wall
Being a Good Lifeguard
The Culture of Dependence
Accountability of Another Kind
11 Mind-Sets and Preemptsp. 137
Theory of Dissipative Structures
Giving Ego a Job
Without Pointing Fingers
Let Them Make the Connection
"This Way to Dialogue" Signs
Choosing Mind-Sets
Now or Never
12 The Socratic Methodp. 147
Socrates--More Than One Voice
Don't Give Them Fish--Help Them Learn How to Fish
A Midwife Assists
Experience Is the Best Teacher
Hiding From Reality
The Wrong Questions
Awakening Perplexity
Asking Good Questions
Finding the Spirit of Inquiry
Believe They Can Do It
Awaken the Desire
Let Them Discover Their Barriers
Avoiding the Hemlock Response
13 Egoless-nessp. 159
How to Become Unnecessary
The Seduction of Being in Front of the Room
In the Presence of Your Equals
Body Language
Don't Hold That Thought
Cockiness: An Early Warning System
The Fear of Looking Uninvolved, Uninterested, or Unimportant
Common Ego Trip-Ups
14 Storytellingp. 169
When Nothing Else Can Break Through
A Common Experience
Dangerous Truths
Stories That Stimulate Introspection
Developmental Stages
Oral Language
The Magic of "Irrelevant Detail"
The Greatest Sin: A Boring Story
The Power of Stories
15 Modelingp. 181
Walk Your Talk
Facilitate Yourself
But Didn't You Just Say ...?
Let Me "See"
From Either/Or to Both/And
When You Screw Up
16 Dialogue in the Real Worldp. 189
You Can't Have a Conversation With That Many People
We Don't Have a Whole Day
You Must Have an Agenda to Accomplish Anything
Sometimes It's Not a Good Idea to Tell the Truth
Relinquishing Control Is Dangerous--Someone Might Get Hurt
No Leader Should Mean No Facilitator
Being More Than Doing
Appendix A Recipe for Dialoguep. 201
Bibliographyp. 237
Indexp. 243