The Eight Rules of Dialog

Few simple guidelines for a civilized exchange of ideas.

INCITI / Urban Jam #2

In the year 1989, Velvet Revolution took place in former Czechoslovakia. One of the documents, that were circulating in society at that time and that shaped the form of public discourse to a great extent, were The Eight Rules of Dialog.

Please, replace he, his, etc. with appropriate pronoun of your preference.

1. Your opponent is not an enemy, but a partner in search for truth.
The aim of our discussion is truth, not intellectual competition. Participation in a dialog assumes your respect for: truth, others, yourself.

2. Try to comprehend the other.
If you don’t understand the opinion of your opponent, you can neither rebut nor honor his argument. Formulate your opponent’s objections yourself, so it becomes clear, how well you understand them.

3. Don’t pass off claims without factual proofs as an argument.
In such a case, it’s just your opinion and your partner is not obliged to grant it the weight of an argument.

4. Don’t run away from the topic.
Don’t avoid uncomfortable questions or arguments by misleading the discussion to something else.

5. Don’t try to have the last word at all costs.
The amount of words won’t replace a missing argument. Silencing the opponent does not mean rebutting his argument or refuting his ideas.

6. Don’t debase personal dignity of an opponent.
He, who attacks the person of opponent, looses the right to participate in the dialog.

7. Don’t forget that dialog demands discipline.
After all, we formulate our arguments and opinions by intellect, not by emotions. He, who is not able to control his feelings and passions, and who is not able intelligibly and calmly express his opinion, is not able to carry on a meaningful conversation with others.

8. Don’t mistake the dialog for a monologue.
Everyone has equal right to express himself. Don’t get lost in subsidiary points. Courtesy to others shows itself also in the fact, that you can save time.

They are sill relevant, aren’t they?

Live long and prosper \\//_