Facilitating dialogue

Dialogue is a voluntary process. Without a spirit of openness and honest effort, participants will not gain the full benefits. However, skilled facilitation is also key.

As facilitators, we guide people, helping them to negotiate complex interpersonal terrain.

Experts in the process, rather than the subject at hand, we encourage participants to listen deeply to others and speak honestly about themselves. Avoiding a focus on counter-arguments or debate, experiences and opinions are shared to build a common understanding. Seeking new options rather than closure, the goal is to collaborate to develop solutions.

Shaping the group experience, our role is to:

  • Manage the agenda and guide the process;
  • Create a safe space for dialogue, by collectively developing ground rules;
  • Inspire active participation by all, helping deal with any difficult participants;
  • Model the behaviours that support dialogue, such as deep listening; and
  • Lead non-dialogue activities that enhance the group process, such as group exercises or role-plays.

Acting as coaches, we encourage the changes within and between people that true dialogue requires. This means we reflect deeply on group dynamics, naming and exploring any hidden undercurrents. We ask provocative questions to move dialogue forward. Staying calm and engaged, we remain flexible and intervene only when necessary.