Dialogic Aims and Sample Tools to Achieve Them

Dialogic Aims Sample Tools for Facilitators and Participants
Promote generous listening

Promote reflection before speaking or acting

Promote genuine, thoughtful, and heartfelt speaking

  • Giving everyone an equal turn to speak while others listen
  • Encouraging reflection before speaking
  • Limiting responses by setting time limits
  • Encouraging listening as a form of inquiry
  • Sharing participants’ concerns and questions in advance without specifying their sources
Promote participants’ recognition of and commitment to their relational intentions, their long-range purposes, and their capacity to shape what happens
  • In premeeting conversations, inquiring about · Hopes for the conversation
    · Images of satisfying conversation
    · Long-range purposes
  • Collaboratively developing meeting agreements that support people’s intentions and hopes
  • Inviting and using written questions
  • Pausing to reflect
Promote participants’ ownership of the process
  • Soliciting hopes and concerns; relating these to possible group- process agreements
  • Soliciting design ideas; co-creating meeting frames, formats, content, focus, and procedures with participants
  • Using participants’ language
  • Refraining from interpretation
  • Being open about facilitator aims and actions
  • Intervening on behalf of agreements; inviting participants to do so also
  • Relying on participant reflections in planning subsequent meetings
Promote openness to the other

Promote mutual recognition and acknowledgement

• Clarifying differences between
·  misunderstanding and not understanding · acknowledgement and agreement
· intentions and effects

• Posing questions for all in the group to consider
• Inviting questions of genuine interest among participants • Inviting shared concerns as well as differences


Promote recognition of the complexity of self and other

Promote an inquiring stance about self and other

  • Grounding conversation in the personal (e.g., beginning with how people’s concerns about the issue connects with their life- experience)
  • Asking questions crafted to surface gray areas and experiences of value conflict
  • Countering stereotyping (exercise)
  • Turning assumptions into questions
  • Creating and asking genuine questions of self and other
Promote a sense of sufficient safety, security, and trust
  • In collaboration with community members, preparing a warm invitation that spells out the purposes, processes, pragmatic details, and expectations for participants
  • Soliciting, suggesting, and monitoring shared agreements, ground rules, or covenants
  • Involving participants in selection of content and questions they will address
  • Inquiring about questions participants want to ask others and hope others will ask them
  • Circulating their questions and concerns (without attribution) prior to meeting
  • Facilitating fairly and as agreed
Promote equal conversational power for all participants
  • Adopting a shoulder-to-shoulder, non-expert stance
  • Involving all sides equally in planning
  • Beginning with anticipated, sequenced, and timed exchanges, a kind of ritual providing equal airtime for all.
  • Developing agreements specific to each group
  • Clarifying maintenance of group agreements as a responsibility shared by all
  • Setting time limits for exchanges
  • Arranging the physical environment to support equity
  • Inquiring in ways that bring forward accounts of fairly equal coherence for all sides

Created by
Sallyann Roth, Senior Associate Robert Stains, Program Director Public Conversations Project, 2005

Permission to photocopy. ©2006 Public Conversations Project. www.publicconversations.org.