Topically-focused discussions are guided by trained, impartial facilitators for the purpose of increasing mutual respect and understanding among diverse people and promoting civic engagement.
Round 1: Introductions
Review of the Agreements (see below), the foundation for our dialogues, and the process. The facilitator’s role is to ensure the group abides by the Agreements, creates a comfortable experience, and provides the opportunity for all to speak (recognizing that while it is enriching when all participate, it is also honorable to pass.)
Round 2: Listen and Be Heard
Everyone who wishes to express their thoughts or advocate a position has a chance to do so. To encourage true listening, Reflective Listening is used in this round. Reflective Listening is paraphrasing what the previous speaker has shared before sharing their position on the topic.
Round 3: Genuine Questions
The chance to ask genuine and respectful questions of one another or the group about what was heard in Round 2. The person who is asked a question restates it before responding in order to ensure understanding of the question.
Round 4: Reflection
A brief closing in which the group is asked a final question prompting reflection upon the topic and experience. The group also completes evaluations.
The spirit of IJPC Dialogue events are characterized by the following AGREEMENTS:
Open-Mindedness: Listen to and respect all points of view.
Acceptance: Suspend judgment as best you can.
Curiosity: Seek to understand rather than persuade.
Discovery: Question old assumptions, look for new insights.
Sincerity: Speak for yourself about what has personal heart and meaning.
Brevity: Go for honesty and depth but don’t go on and on.
Confidentiality: Respect and honor the rights and privacy of all participants.
Adapted and revised from original source: Conversation Café.
Debate vs. Dialogue
|Assuming there is a right answer and you have it||Assuming many people have pieces of the answer; together they can craft a solution|
|Combative: Participants attempt to prove other side wrong||Collaborative: Participants work together toward growth|
|About winning||About exploring common ground|
|Listening to find flaws and make counter-arguments||Listening to understand, find meaning and agreement|
|Defending assumptions as truth||Revealing assumptions for re-evaluation|
|Critiquing the other side’s position||Re-examining all positions|
|Defending one’s own views against those of others||Admitting that others’ thinking can improve on one’s own|
|Searching for flaws and weaknesses in others’ positions||Searching for strengths and value in others’ positions|
Source: Swidler, Leonard. The Dialogue Decalogue:
Ground Rules for Interreligious Dialogue