Why Socratic Dialogue should become our business card | Sira Abenoza | TEDxESADE

Why Socratic Dialogue should become our business card | Sira Abenoza | TEDxESADE

Translator: Robert Tucker
Reviewer: Denise RQ Don’t worry, I did not go blank, it was planned, because today I want
to talk to you about dialogue. Although it’s a bit ironic to be talking
about dialogue while doing a monologue, but I still haven’t figured out
how to do a TEDx talk while dialoguing, so I’ll have to leave that one
for the next time. So, today, I’m going
to talk to you about dialogue, and that’s why I started with a silence, because dialogue
starts or grows out of silence. Dialogue starts by looking at the people
that we have in front of us and trying to understand what is it that they’re already sharing
without speaking. I started my professional journey
with deep concern. I had spent my years in college
divided into two worlds: I spent mornings surrounded
by business students at a business school where their main concern was to make as much money as possible
by the time they would turn 30 or 40. And I would spend afternoons
in the Faculty of Philosophy surrounded by classmates who would engage in endless conversations
on how to make the world a better place, how to make it more just,
how to make it more liveable. So, by the time I graduated,
I had something very clear: there was something that had to be done, or I desperately wanted
to do something about it, because those classmates that were doing
their studies in management were the ones who would have
power in the future, were the ones who would actually have
the chance to decide what the world
would look like in the future. And back then the only thing
they had in mind was to make money, whereas my classmates in philosophy, they did have great ideas
on how to make the world a better place, but I somehow knew that they would never
have the power to make that real. So then, my idea was, “OK, so what if I tried
to bring philosophy, and the concern
for society and for justice, to management schools
to raise that awareness among people who would have
power in the future?” So that’s how I started working on corporate social responsibility,
business ethics, teaching, doing research, and also consulting
with companies, with governments. I spent a few years preaching
this idea that you all know, which is that responsible management is management that incorporates the concern for all stakeholders. So responsible management
is not only answering to our shareholders, but it is trying to understand what is it that our stakeholders need,
expect, what are their interests, and that implies necessarily
engaging in real dialogue with them. So, I was preaching that for a while,
and then after a while I thought, “Well, this isn’t working. I mean, people seem
to agree with the idea, but the truth is that when they have to put it into
practice, they’re actually not doing it.” And then I suddenly had
the breakthrough, and it was like, “Yeah, of course, they’re not doing it,
because they don’t know how to dialogue.” And let’s be honest,
do you think we know how to dialogue? Politicians enter a TV set
having a certain idea, and leave the TV set
thinking exactly the same. They entered the TV set as a gladiator
that is about to win a battle against an opponent
that is there at the TV set. It’s the same for people
who are in roundtables, talk shows; all of them engage verbally not trying to understand
what the others are about to say, not trying to learn and to grow
from what the others are saying, but in order to win a battle. That’s actually the kind of message
of that we’re told all the time: we live in a competitive society, life is a zero-sum up game, you win or you lose,
and you have to go about fighting. You can bid with your business, but you also compete individually
when you engage with someone, because you have to show the world that you’re smart,
and that you can convince others. That, which is a debate mentality, is exactly the opposite
of what dialogue is. So at the end of the day, if our role models today
are the people that we see on TV, we’re not having role models
on how to dialogue. So then my idea was, “OK, if I want to make
future managers more responsible, I will have to help them
relearn how to dialogue.” Because I think that it’s not
that we never knew how to, it’s that we have forgotten,
we’ve lost the habit on how to. Then the question obviously was, “Yeah, great, you have to teach
how to dialogue, but the question is how.” Because, yeah, great,
it sounds great, but how – if no one is teaching us? Then I remembered about this guy
that I used to read a lot about, you know him, he was called
the father of philosophy – Socrates. Socrates spent all his life walking around and engaging in dialogue
with the citizens from Athens. So much so, that when he was sent to trial accused of trying to pervert
the minds of young people, and he was given the chance
to save his life if he stopped dialoguing, he said, “No, guys, I’d rather die
than stop dialoguing, than stop engaging
with others in dialogue.” So, I thought, he’s our guy. We need to reread,
relearn, or listen to his messages. One of his main messages is
that all of us know more than we know, meaning: the society has made us believe that we’re almost like empty recipients
that need to be told, that need to be fed on what we have to learn,
we have to do, etc. Socrates saw us, saw the human being, as, I would say, almost the opposite. All of us here have a great,
amazing knowledge inside of us. The thing is that we need others
to help us give birth to that knowledge, unravel those ideas
that we have inside of us. So, in that sense, if we want to dialogue, we will have to see the other as somebody
who has that potential in them. And dialogue will be about collaborating, it’ll be about teamwork, it will be about helping each other to give birth to those ideas,
to that knowledge that we have without knowing. So, first of all, talking about the how, the first thing
we have to bear in mind is: we have that knowledge inside, and we’re not going to compete
to become aware of that knowledge, we have to collaborate, and we’re going to help each other
to become more aware of that knowledge. But that there is also another thing
that is very important, and it is about changing our mindset. For example, we all have
this tendency to judge whatever is being said by others. I know you’re all judging me
– that’s fine, I know that – because we all judge
each other all the time. If we want to dialogue,
we will have to stop judging others, and we will have to start
really paying attention to what is being said, and feeling compelled to help the other build their own ideas that are there, latent, ready to be born. So that’s going to be very important. But it’s also going to be important
to connect to that genuine curiosity that we used to have
when we were two or three, when we kept asking asking
why, why, why, all the time, and our parents were like,
“Ah, ya, stop it.” So, go back to that moment
where we had that genuine curiosity, and when we were like Alice in Wonderland, and the world was full of wonder. So, that’s how we should relate to others: by connecting to our genuine curiosity,
because we all have that. Also, another tricky thing is that we will have to stop reacting
to what others say as if it were a threat. Because remember,
if others are a collaborator, someone who can help us unravel our ideas, whatever that other is going to say,
even if that is making us wrong, or making it obvious
that what we would we just said is silly, instead of taking that as a threat, we have to see that that is a tool that will help us, let’s say,
uncover all the layers of our knowledge, and get rid of the first layers
that are usually formed by prejudices. So, in that sense, whenever someone says something
that initially makes us feel bad, let’s think about it,
that can be a tool that can help us; and also let’s be flexible, because we have this tendency
to attach to our ideas as if without them, we were nothing. Well, ideas don’t belong to anybody, and what is interesting is to improve
and make them more sophisticated. Also, it is important
what I told you at the beginning: to deal with silence without going crazy, because we have time: if we want to dialogue,
there’s no rush, we have to breathe, and we have to be
comfortable with silence. But, you know what? Actually, dialogue is about practicing. I can tell you 1,000 ideas, but what is more important
is that you start to practice. Start to practice – and that I would say is relevant,
and that needs to be set – start to practice having something
very important in mind and in your body, which is, if you want to dialogue,
you have to trust. The reason why we’re not
being able to dialogue today is because we don’t trust each other. That’s why we judge, that’s why we react,
because we’re trained to debate, we’re trained to fight,
and we see others as a threat. If we want a dialogue, the basis, what we need to do, whatsoever,
otherwise it’s not going to happen, is trust others. Of course, it takes courage, because dialoguing means opening up, means sharing your ideas
and sharing your feelings. And we don’t know
what the other is going to do with our thoughts and with our feelings. But, if we want to dialogue, we’ll have to admit
and have that leap of faith, because otherwise
it’s not going to happen. And then you might say, “Yeah, but come on,
I mean, I’m fine the way I am. Why should I need to open up and then expose myself
to the threat of others? I’m fine, I’m comfortable. I don’t need to open up,
I don’t need to dialogue.” Well, I’ll give you two reasons
why it does make sense to dialogue. The first one is social. Socrates used to say
that evil always comes out of ignorance. And I would like to qualify that idea. To me evil comes
out of ignorance of the other. If we’re trained to debate,
which means if we’re trained to fight, we’re not being able to see the other, we’re not being able to understand what is it that the other
is feeling, experiencing, because we’re about to fight. If we start to open up, and see the other as a person, complex,
with feelings, and with everything, it’ll be much harder for us
to hurt, to do evil, because we’re going to be able
to put ourselves in their shoes, and then understand or feel
the harm that we’re about to provoke. And that, at least,
is going to reduce a little bit the evil that is caused in the world. I’ve seen that in jail. I’ve been, in the last years,
practicing dialogue in jail. You cannot imagine how tough
inmates are in terms of dialoguing, because they don’t trust anybody. They admit along the way that they haven’t been able to dialogue not only because they don’t trust anybody but because they grew up in an environment where there was no trust,
where nobody trusted them, and very young, they learned
that they couldn’t trust anybody. Once they understand – while dialoguing with law students
and with other groups – that by opening up, engaging
in dialogue, and by trusting they regain hope in the world, and they understand
the harm that they created, that creates a mental and emotional shift. So, why to engage in dialogue? Because if you are, if we are,
concerned about the future of the world, and we want to reduce evil, dialogue is a powerful tool
to reduce evil. But I’m also going to give you
a personal, more individual reason. I guess you all want to be happy. Aristotle used to say
that happiness means, or is, flourishing; meaning a happy person is a person
that has been able to flourish, to develop all the potential
that they have inside of them. If our life is about
competing, about debating, we will not have the time and space to grow the potential
that we have in ourselves, and therefore, according to Aristotle,
we will never be able to be happy. Hannah Arendt, the German philosopher, had this beautiful metaphor; she said, “Every time a baby
is born in the world, there’s hope that a new world
is going to grow.” So the idea is that not only that baby
is born in a world that is new to them, but that those babies
have the potential to build a new world. Those babies are only going to have
the potential, the possibility to build that new world if we give them the chance,
if we give them the space and the time. If instead of growing, competing,
and being in a constant battle, they have the chance
to engage in dialogue with each other, and they can see others and trust others as people who are going to help them to grow that new world
that they have in them. Before I leave,
I want to share a secret with you. Every day when you wake up
in the morning, you are that newborn. You are that newborn that is born
in a world that is new to them. You are the newborn
who has the power to choose whether you want to trust, to develop, and help others develop, and therefore,
make the world something new, make the world a better place. (Applause)

Comments (42)

  1. Very profound! It's a matter of better listening to each other

  2. This is one of the best TEDTALKS..Thank you Sira

  3. What a beautiful person, love her…

  4. very profound idea explained simply..thanks

  5. I find her really sexy talking about philosophy.

  6. People cannot think quick enough to do what you are asking. I often hear something that sounds like it crushes my logic but when I take a few minutes and think it all through I realize the other persons argument may have sounded great but that it does not actually follow. So people typically come prepared to defend their beliefs unless it gets absolutely crushed because chances are even if the opponent wins the argument they did not truly win on paper if we were to compare logic. A lot of people use analogous reasoning to trick people. I do think we need to challenge our beliefs but I don't know if public dialogue is the place to do that just for the integrity of the actual argument because the better one may not actually convince people. Great speaker though

  7. To give this a try, visit a Socrates Cafe near you. Just Google Socrates Cafe and your zip code, if you don't like the group you visit start one of your own.

  8. Why has this great talk had only 4,621 views nearly a year after it was posted?

  9. Great concluding call to action. Do I? Do I want to make the world a better place? Do you?

  10. I think in the end she lost the main idea of this presentation. The idea that we forgot (or never knew) how to correctly speak with each other is interesting. Especially, I like her comparison between the style of thinking of business people and philosophers. Nowadays, the winner is who speaks louder and more confident. It remembers me a situation 2500 years ago in Greece, when sophists manipulated people by the knowledge of rhetoric and arguing. Socrates was agains sophists' methods. He supported a dialog as the tool to find a real truth. That's when and how a DEMOCRACY was born!

  11. It does a poor job at explaining the Socratic method. All she needed to do was to show some examples

  12. the alt left hate the Socratic method…they throw or hit you when questions point out their dialogue is reason-less

  13. So how does this talk stack up to what is happening on collage campuses , where free speech is being condemned , and no one is allowed to talk to anyone , and the only dialogue is shouting down any speaker with a different opinion. This TedTalk would be labeled "Hate Speach" at most American collages

  14. Great talk! Food for thought for sure!

  15. It’s always great to be reminded the need for civil interaction and how to do it. I feel like she has the wrong idea about or definition of debate. It’s not about fighting or even winning. It’s about getting to the truth and usually it’s done between people who are educated on a subject, have a case so to speak, and provide value in presenting their Positions. There’s a lot of valuable critical thinking strategies and brain power that goes into debating. So again it depends on definitions, but if she’s getting at that you shouldn’t debate unless you’re prepared, then OK, I would agree with that.

  16. What’s with the ritualistic silence at the beginning?

  17. Very good TeldTalk, thanks Sira

  18. ✋Sometimes prejudice and judgement can be a good thing.
    Those two alone can even save your life in certain circumstances ☝️

  19. i didn't like this talk sorry being honest this is wasting time

  20. Collaboration better be our goal.

  21. Great topic…but homegirl could have prepped a smidge more.

  22. Dialogue is about sharing different perspectives to broaden understanding, it takes keeping our mind open and curious even when someone saying very contrarian views or expressing feelings that makes one anxious; it does take a different mindset and practice than debate .

  23. Dial-up? No thanks

  24. Thought this was going to describe using the Socratic method….

  25. I thought she was talking about Dial Up.

  26. The point of dialogue is to reach a common end to counter ways of thinking, which means compromising a belief or conviction that one holds. The main beliefs among us are Spiritual and those convictions aren't usually compromised.

  27. this is a good talk about listening to each other to get a good understanding of the matter , she is making a point o if if someone says something and you just dont pay close attention for whatever the reason, we cannit say that a real dialogue took place, also if a politician gives an speech l mean a goid politician he does not need alot the audience to interact with him because he already has a plan or agenda or a written speech ,so he wll talk but not to debate or clarfy his ideas but just to let others what he will do on behave of a group, in here he does not need to dialogue ,a socratic dialogue comes ib handy when you have to interact but she git to make her point

  28. We require more development of the skills to dialogue, which involve creating confidence, being active listening and being a functional conversationalist. Thanks Sira Abenoza for enriching the conversational ideas, I would love your opinion about the book ZAPES PARA DIALOGAR, of which I am the author. Congratulations.

  29. YES!, programmed to compete, however how much competition do you see in nature? Dialog unites and reunites, so Socrates was stopped from freely giving the people the metaphysical tools to unite. As they will at some point, find themselves and their true relationships within a unified whole. Language IS magic.

  30. This should be directed at middle schoolers, but sadly is the material for today's adults.

  31. Of all the Ted talks I have listened to, this is the best so far. Because, it hits upon some basic fundamental precepts that are absolutely necessary in order to build a correct understanding of absolutely anything. Without a proper foundation one builds upon the shifting sands of time, which results in entropy. Most students of philosophy don't understand that Western philosophy didn't BEGIN with Socrates; it actually CULMINATED with Socrates! And I authored a book that explains how I know this to be true….with help from Socrates!

  32. Isnt doing business often unethical in nature? And wouldnt someone focused on optimization of profit not only not care but actively be unethical to reach their goals? (I.e. nestle and the stuff theyre doing all the time)

  33. Wonderful talk. Thank you.

  34. Where do I start…
    I have been every
    Where you are
    Speaking about…
    In the year 2019…
    An I haven't had
    My flat screen television plugged
    In to the program
    For many many
    So I'm a little out
    Of the loop…

  35. Dialogue
    Socrates said
    Aristotle says that the
    New born has the
    Power to make the world a better place…
    An I believe that
    We do every
    Generation BORN…


    Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day an acquaintance ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about Diogenes?”
    “Wait a moment,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me, I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”
    “Triple filter?” asked the acquaintance.
    “That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about Diogenes, let’s take a moment to filter what you’re going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made abso- lutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”
    “No,” the man said. “Actually I just heard about it.”
    “All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about Diogenes something good?”
    “No, on the contrary…”
    “So,” Socrates continued. “You want to tell me something about Diogenes that may be bad, even though you’re not certain it’s true?”
    The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.
    Socrates continued. “You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter, the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about Diogenes going to be useful to me?”
    “No, not really.”
    “Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me or anyone at all?”
    The man was bewildered and ashamed.
    This is an example of why Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high es- teem. Too bad more people don’t utilize the test today.

  37. i liked the intentional silence in the beginning. It was like gauging the audience.

  38. very relevant for today

  39. The four principles of Socratic dialogue:
    1.       Truth is the goal
    2.       Be willing to be refuted
    3.       Listen (observe silence)
    4.       Question

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