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What makes this different

from an everyday conversation?



In contrast to debate, dialogue is a conversation in which people who have different beliefs and perspectives seek to develop mutual understanding.   Zeidler dialogues are collaboratively designed, and are structured and facilitated using the Reflective Structured Dialogue method.


Dialogues typically include  10 to 100 participants, with one facilitator for every 6 participants, and last 2 to 3 hours.


Dialogue Components


Goals:  People come to our dialogues to better understand views different from their own, and  the assumptions, values, and experiences that shape those views. In many cases, participants come to understand their own views better by explaining them to others.


Process: The process is  a bit more formal than ordinary conversations. Dialogues may feel less natural — at least at the beginning. For example, people will be asked to respond to questions in a “go-round” format with a time limit and without interrupting.


Atmosphere:  The atmosphere of the dialogue may remind you of good, informal, and respectful conversations you have experienced in which no one dominated, thoughtful questions were asked, time was shared, and mutual listening took place.


Communication agreements:  To help create this atmosphere, participants make agreements that foster a civil and exploratory exchange. For example, participants generally agree to refrain from interrupting, persuasion, and rebuttal.


Sample Dialogue Agenda


Welcome and orientation: on the purpose, roles, and schedule


Communication agreements: on spirit, form, and confidentiality of listening


Introductions and hopes


Structured questions (format is generally “go-round” with time limits)

  • 1st question: connect your views to life experiences

  • 2nd question: articulate the heart of your perspective

  • 3rd question: reflect on and share complexities of your views


Facilitated discussion:  less structured, more organic conversation to deepen understanding of what has been heard


Parting words


For more information, read about Our Method
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