Dialogue Plus

Without a constructive process of dialogue, disagreements on important social issues can greatly damage relationships, communities, institutions and societies as a whole. Misperceptions of the other party can become interpreted as fact. Posturing to the media can inflame emotions and obscure important aspects of the issue. And a dangerous and limiting assumption can become entrenched: the assumption that the only goal and option of interaction between differing parties is to have one party change its opinion on the issue.

DIALOGUE PLUS is a Program in which I work cooperatively with the disagreeing parties to develop an effective process of constructive dialogue on their relationship, the contested issues, and the effects of their disagreements on institutions, their community, and the broader society. Within a safe and confidential environment, the parties are able to have candid and productive dialogue about the issues and why they hold their respective views. Action steps to improve the situation are then developed.

The DIALOGUE PLUS service has been utilized by communities and societies throughout the world to deal effectively with a wide range of social issues. Among those issues are race, ethnicity, public policy, environmental disputes, abortion, intra/inter-institutional disagreements, religion, regional/inter-state conflicts, and gender. The Program has been conducted at all stages of conflict situations (pre-conflict, mid-conflict, and post-conflict). Through the Program, relationships have been repaired and improved, communities have been able to prevent serious rupture, and institutions have become strengthened.

Examples of those who have utilized the DIALOGUE PLUS Program include civic leaders, issue organizations, adversarial citizen groups, politicians and political parties, religious leaders, and international and local governmental and nongovernmental bodies. Several of the benefits consistently indicated by those who have experienced the program include:

  • A clearer understanding of the thinking of the other party(ies)
  • Improvements in the way issues are framed, and in the way the disagreeing parties communicate with each other and with the public
  • The use of more constructive attitudes and behavior in communicating their opinions
  • The development of steps they can take to lessen the negative effects of their disagreements on the people, groups, communities, institutions and societies they care about
  • The discovery of “connectors” with the other party even in the midst of the strong disagreements on the issue that divides them
  • A strengthened ability to distinguish between the person holding an opinion and the opinion itself
  • The development of ways to sustain the benefits of the dialogue into the future
  • The learning of skills that can be applied to other situations in which serious
    disagreements are involved

Differences of opinion on critical issues will be with us always. Agreeing to disagree becomes essential, and the behavior we use in disagreeing is crucial. Through the DIALOGUE PLUS Program, disagreeing parties produce more clear, civil, and mutually beneficial outcomes for the parties involved and for the broader community and society.
DIALOGUE PLUS sessions are arranged in cooperation with the parties involved to ensure a safe and productive atmosphere for all. Close collaboration continues throughout the Process, and follow up is maintained to help promote sustainability.

HOW TO ARRANGE SERVICES: See Contact page or Services page