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Principle of Dialogue




Dialogue is shared exploration towards greater understanding, connection, or possibility.

Guidelines for dialogue

  • We talk about what's really important to us.
  • We really listen to each other. We see how thoroughly we can understand each other's views and experience.
  • We say what's true for us without making each other wrong.
  • We see what we can learn together by exploring things together.
  • We avoid monopolizing the conversation. We make sure everyone has a chance to speak.

Tools for Open Dialogue

  • "Popcorn" and other variations of circles
  • Chime and stone
  • A penny for your thoughts
  • Facilitation
  • Maintaining a shared center


  • Participants must suspend their assumptions.
  • Participants must view each other as colleagues or peers.
  • In the early stages there needs to be a facilitator who ‘holds the context’ of dialogue.




  • Opening oneself to the other.
  • Accepting another point of view
  • Objective rightness or otherwise of opinion to be grasped.
  • knowledge- not a fixed thing to be graphed aspect of a process.
  • Concern not to win argument but to advance and human well-being.
  • Agreement can not be imposed but rest on conviction.


Virtues of Dialogue


1          CONCERN. In being with our partners in conversation, to engage them with us, there is more going on than talk about  the overt topic. There is a social bond  that entails interest in, and a commitment to the other.

2          TRUST. We have to take what others are saying on faith - and there can be some risk in this.

3          RESPECT. While there may be large differences between partners in conversation, the process can go on if there is mutual regard.        This involves the idea that everyone is equal in some basic way and entails a commitment to being fair-minded, opposing degradation and rejecting exploitation. 

4         APPRECIATION. Linked to respect, this entails valuing the unique qualities that others bring.  

6          HOPE. While not being purely emotional, hope is central. We engage in conversation in the belief that it holds possibility. Often it is not clear what we will gain or learn, but faith in the inherent value of education carries us forward.



  • Dialogue is collaborative: two or more sides work together toward common understanding
  • In dialogue, finding common ground is the goal
  • In dialogue, one listens to the other side(s) in order to understand, find meaning, and find agreement.
  • Dialogue enlarges and possibly changes a participant's point of view.
  • Dialogue reveals assumptions for reevaluation.
  • Dialogue causes introspection on one's own position
  • Dialogue creates an open-minded attitude: an openness to being wrong and an openness to change.
  • In dialogue, one submits one's best thinking, knowing that other people's reflections will help improve it rather than destroy it
  • Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one's beliefs.
  • In dialogue, one searches for basic agreements.
  • In dialogue, one searches for strengths in the other positions
  • Dialogue involves a real concern for the other person and seeks to not alienate or offend.
  • Dialogue assumes that many people have pieces of the answer and that together they can put them into a workable solution
  • Dialogue remains open-ended.

Today, dialog is used in classrooms, community centers, corporations, federal agencies, and other settings to enable people, usually in small groups, to share their perspectives and experiences about difficult issues. It is used to help people resolve longstanding conflicts and to build deeper understanding of contentious issues. Dialog is not about judging, weighing, or making decisions, but about understanding and learning. Dialog dispels stereotypes, buildstrust, and enables people to be open to perspectives that are very different from their own.



Barrister Allen Onyema

National Chairman, FEHN