Dialogic Theory of Communication

Updated October 19, 2020

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Dialogic Theory of Communication essay

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With deep roots in philosophy and relational communication theory Kent and Taylor (1998) extended dialogic theory as an honest and ethical guideline for practitioners and scholars in the creation and maintenance of effective organization public relationships. The theory explains how organization owners should ethically build quality relationships with the public by having a dialogue with them.

Dialogue refers to the process of interpersonal, organization and group public interaction that focuses on truth, honesty and positive regard for the other. Negotiated exchange of opinions and ideas quali es to be a dialogue. The main idea of the theory is that an organization should be willing to interact with the public in an ethical and honest way in order to create effective organization – public communication channel. As an initial step toward articulating a public relations theory of dialogue, the authors created ve overarching tenets that encompass the implicit and explicit assumptions that underlie the concept of dialogue.

The ve features of dialogue are; mutuality, propinquity, 23 empathy, risk, and commitment (Kent & Taylor, 2002). The authors also noted that this list is not exhaustive and some overlap may occur between concepts. This is so because a dialogue is a communicative “orientation” and not a set of rules, and therefore some overlap is expected. The next section explains each of the dialogic tenet and their value for hotel and customer is expanded upon.


Mutuality is the recognition that rms and their stakeholders are inextricably tied together. Mutuality is characterized by an inclusion or collaborative orientation and a spirit of mutual equality (Kent & Taylor, 2002). Without the public, organizations like hotels would serve no purpose; therefore, they should seek collaboration with their stakeholders in the spirit of equality and respect. Hotels and their customers should be open to each other, accept each others’ view as worthy of consideration.

Mutuality is like a partnership, which fosters itself on a commonality of interests, operations, goals, and does not seek to act opportunistically. In the spirit of mutuality, the exercise of power or superiority should be avoided. Participant should feel comfortable discussing any topic free of ridicule or contempt. This requires another dialogue feature, propinquity.


Propinquity (i.e., nearness) is the idea that organizations should make themselves physically and emotionally accessible to their publics. It’s about the temporality and spontaneity of interaction with the stakeholders. For hotel industry, it means that the stakeholders are consulted in matters that effect them, and for stakeholders it means they are willing and able to articulate their demands to the hotels. Kent and Taylor (2002) called on organizations to engage with their publics, explaining that dialogic participants must be willing to give their whole selves to encounters. Propinquity requires that hotels consider how their actions will affect their customers and even seek input from those customers before making decisions.

According to the authors, propinquity is created by three features of dialogic relationships: “immediacy of presence”, “temporal ow”, and “engagement”. These features of dialogue clarify the process of dialogic exchanges. Immediacy of presence refers to the fact that communication is in the present, that is, before the decisions are made the involved parties have a shared space or place to communicate. Temporal ow implies that dialogue is rooted in the present, but focused on equitable and acceptable future for the parties involved. While engagement is about accessibility of the participants, they give their whole selves to interactions.

Immediacy of Presence implies that parties involved are communicating in the present about issues, rather than after decisions have been made. Immediacy of presence also indicates that parties are communicating in a shared space (or place). The current crop of customers demand real-time interactions. According to Salesforce (2016) 87% of business buyers agree they expect companies to respond to them in real time. This feature of dialogic theory of communication is ideal for modelling online branding for hotels. Another feature of propinquity is temporal ow.” Temporal ow as used in dialogic communication is relational. It involves an understanding of the past and the present and has an eye toward future relationships.

Dialogue is not just about the present; the future is also taken care of for all participants. Dialogue is deliberative and seeks to construct a future for participants that is both equitable and acceptable to all parties involved (Kent & Taylor, 1998). The current customer requires to be treated as an individual. It high time that hotels to understand the behaviour of their customers. This can be enhanced through adequate use of Web 3.0 technologies, which are able to integrate data from different sources.

Dialogic propinquity has engagement as the third feature. Dialogic participants must be willing to give their whole selves to encounters. Participants in the dialogue need to be accessible. Engagement bene ts all parties involved because decisions serve multiple interests. Dialogic propinquity means that hotel customer are consulted and considered on matters that affect them. Propinquity illustrates that there are some very positive outcomes for hotels that embrace dialogic relationships with their customers. First, the hotels will be able to know in advance the existence of customer disagreement on issues. And second, hotels can use the open, two-way relationships with their customers to improve organizational effectiveness. A third dialogic principle is the concept of empathy.

Kent and Taylor (1998) described empathetic organizations as “walking in the shoes of their publics”. Empathy means supporting others and con rming the importance of their views, even if a person or organization disagrees with those views. Empathy also requires a communal mindset, in which organizations consider how to build the whole community, not just themselves. It is important to recognize that these three elements of dialogic public relations necessarily involve a fourth element: risk.

Dialogic Theory of Communication essay

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