Communication Counselling skills Leadership skills

The Socratic Dialogue

One of the powerful conversational techniques is the Socratic dialogue, a method which boils down to making your conversational partner aware of what precisely they are saying, what exactly they are thinking and what they are actually doing. The major difference between ordinary conversation is that this awareness is reached via questioning and literal reflection instead of directly telling them. As was mentioned in a previous post, the Socratic dialogue is based on reflecting meaning, in other words, it’s not about the facts nor the emotions those facts elicit, but what this all means (and what the impact is) for the other.


Reflection, Reflective Listening And Some Other Terms

One of the problems when dealing with communication as a subject is that various authors sometimes use the same term to mean something different. This is especially true of the word reflection. To avoid confusion, I have decided to use the term ‘reflection’, but never on its own and always with a qualifier to indicate what is being reflected. So, when speaking of reflection as an activity to reflect on your own functioning, I use the term ‘self-reflection’. In terms of listening skills, I use three terms: Literal reflection, when actual words are repeated; reflection of emotions, when dealing with the feelings we observe in our conversational partner; and reflection of meaning, when we interpret what someone may mean by what they have just said.