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.
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