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  • 7/27/2019 Dialogo Sostenido


    PREFACEThe International Institute for Sustained Dialogue welcomes you to the world ofSustained Dialogue with the following convictions:

    One of the greatest challenges to humankindperhaps the greatest threat to civilizationis whether and how people of different racial, ethnic, cultural, historic, and economicbackgrounds can coexist peacefully, justly, and productively. Can they live and worktogether, or must they fragment into antagonistic entities?Some things only governments can do, such as negotiate peace treaties, organizeinterstate relations, fund state programs, and make and enforce law. But some thingsonly citizens outside government can do, such as transforming conflictual humanrelationships, modifying human behavior, and changing political culture.The greatest untapped resources for meeting the challenges of the 21st century are the

    energies and capacities of citizens outside government. Effective decision making,democracy, economic development, and peace depend on the relationships that citizensforge with each other. Sustained Dialogue provides space and a systematic, open-endedpolitical process for building those relationships.The purpose of this manual is to provide resources for those interested in learning aboutthe process of Sustained Dialogue. It comes to you as a complement to face-to-facetraining with a strong word of caution: You will not learn to use Sustained Dialogueinsightfully and effectively from any manual. Sustained Dialogue is not a list ofpredefined actions to be implemented in a prescribed order that you can read out of amanual.

    It starts with a new way of thinking about politics, relationships, and change processes.It defines the challenges of social, political, and economic change differently. So thechallenge to you the potential user is to internalize this new way of thinking and then tomake the process a part of you. You will need to develop further a number of skills thatyou already have, but you will need to develop an intuition about the process so that,like a great performer in any field, you are not making moves from rote but are able touse them artfully and imaginatively, playing your role as part of an open-ended, fluidprocess of rapidly changing interaction among the actors in your drama.Our aim is to help you begin getting to know the process, and our hope is to walk alongwith some of you who may want to put the process to work to achieve your goals.

    Hal Saunders, President Phil Stewart, Secretary Ramn Daubn, Associate


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    In an effort to bring together the best training materials in Sustained Dialogue as the

    International Institute for Sustained Dialogue sharpens its focus on working incommunities, we have drawn from three previous manuals written over the past decadewhile presenting our latest learning and insights. We gratefully appreciate thecontribution of the following:

    Sustained Dialogue Campus Network,A Guide for Moderators Initiating SustainedDialogue, 2000-2010Teddy Nemeroff, Morne Maritz, Heather Steenkamp, Draft Sustained DialogueTrainers Manual (Institute for Democracy in Africa, 2006)Harold H. Saunders,A Public Peace Process: Sustained Dialogue to Transform Racialand Ethnic Conflicts (New York: St. Martins Press, 1999; Palgrave Macmillanpaperback, 2001), Organizers and Moderators Manual, Appendix B.Harold H. Saunders,Politics Is about Relationship: Blueprint for the Citizens Century(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)International Institute for Sustained Dialogue, Fifth Anniversary Report, 2008All materials are used with appropriate permissions.


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    Table of Contents

    Preface and Acknowledgements

    A Democratic Theory of Societal Change

    Community as the Laboratory for Learning

    Part I. The Scope of Sustained DialogueWhat is Dialogue?

    Debate Dialogue DiscussionWhat is Sustained Dialogue?

    Focuses on transforming relationships, over time, that cause problemsProvides a systematic process for probing the roots of problems to co-createapproaches to their solution and to generate complementary acting

    A New Paradigm for the Study and Practice of PoliticsHow was Sustained Dialogue developed?What Challenges or Problems can Sustained Dialogue Address?Where Has Sustained Dialogue Been Applied?

    International Conflicts:The Arab-Israeli Conflict (1973-1980)

    (Early experiential roots of Sustained Dialogue)The U.S. Soviet (Russian) Dartmouth Conference (1960-present)

    (Security, Regions of Conflict, Managing the Relationship)Tajikistan (1993-2005)

    (Civil War, Peace Making, Peace Building)Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict (2001-2007)

    (Designing a peace process to end 14 year post-war stalemate)Arab-American-European Dialogue (2003-2006)

    (Create constructive relationships between democratically-oriented Arabs, Europeans and Americans)

    Iraq Conflict (2007-present)

    (Design and implement reconciliation process)

    College Campuses and Communities:Sustained Dialogue Campus Network (1999-present)

    (Trains and supports Sustained Dialogues on college campuses)

    Community and Corporate Relations:Community Dialogues (1995-2006)


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    Economic Development Committees in 15 towns in Tajikistan

    Dialogues in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Columbus and Akron, Ohio;

    Hampton Roads, Virginia; Rapid City, South Dakota; Bella Coola,

    British Columbia; seven regional centers in Tajikistan (1995-2006)Dialogue between Barrett Mining and Shoshone tribes (2004-)

    Intra-Organizational Challenges: (2005-2007)

    Transforming relationships to achieve strategic alignmentPart II. Concept and Process: Stages One and TwoThe Concept of Relationship:

    Transforming RelationshipsFive Elements of Relationship


    PowerPerceptions, misperceptions and stereotypesPatterns of interaction

    Probing the Roots of Problems, Co-Creating and ActingThe Five Stages of Sustained Dialogue

    Stage One: Deciding to EngageBuilding a Team around a ProblemWhy Choose Sustained Dialogue?Questions to Consider Prior to Convening

    Steps to Researching and Framing the DialogueWho is an Appropriate Convener?Choosing a Sustained Dialogue Moderator

    Exercise: Qualities of a Sustained Dialogue ModeratorModerating Skills: Good Questions, Active ListeningBecoming an Active ListenerFour Components of Active Listening

    Pursuing What I Hear more DeeplyAn Open or a Closed Meeting?Who Needs to be in the Room?Overcoming Resistance to Entering a Sustained Dialogue

    How Many Participants in a Sustained Dialogue?Questions to consider in Selecting Sustained Dialogue Participants

    Exercise: Identifying Who Needs to be in the RoomWhat are the Conditions for Dialogue? The Compact or CovenantProduct and Transition: Precipitating a Decision to MeetSeparate Meetings with Each Team?Is it Appropriate to Take Careful Notes during the Dialogue?


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    Stage Two: Transforming Relationships & Naming the Problem

    The Concept of RelationshipTransforming RelationshipsThe Five Elements of Relationship

    Stage Two Moderator QuestionsVisible Signs of Relationship TransformationExercise:Working with the Five Elements of Relationship

    Part IInsights into stereotypingPart IIInsights from In-Depth Dialogue

    Exercise:Experiencing the Power of IdentityExercise:Relationship Transformation in a Profound Conflict:

    An Experience from an Actual DialogueModerating Stage Two

    Making the Purposes ClearModerators Back of the Mind Agenda

    Conducting the DialogueMapping the Problems and Relationships Underlying ThemEncouraging HopeDefining Key Problems: Beginning the Transition to Stage ThreeOvercoming ResistanceProducts

    An Example from a Sustained Dialogue of Overcoming Resistance to Dialogue andBuilding Relationship.Part III. Stages Three to Five

    Stage Three: Making Choices: Setting a CourseStage Three Moderator QuestionsHow Will the Dialogue Change?Four Core Activities of Stage ThreeModerating Stage Three

    Making the Purposes ClearA Progression of PhasesA More Directive RoleEmphasizing the Logic of Stage Three DialogueDiagnosing RelationshipsConfirming the Agenda

    Be Attentive but Let the Talk FlowQuestions around RelationshipProbing Relationships More DeeplyFraming Approaches to Changing RelationshipsChoosing a Direction for ActionA Moment of Stock Taking

    Assessing Where Relationships are Going andGenerating Will to Change


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    Where is the Situation Going?Is Change Possible? What would it Require?

    Attempting Transition:Is the Group Thinking Together?Is there a Will to Change?

    Transition: Overcoming ResistanceProducts

    Stage Four: Designing Change: Scenarios of Inter-Dependent StepsStage Four Moderator Questions Scenario BuildingHow Will the Conversation Change?Three Core Activities of Stage FourModerating Stage Four

    Purposes of this StageThe Elements of a ScenarioConducting the Dialogue

    Scenario-Building: The Vehicle for ChangeFour Tasks

    Products and Transition

    Stage Five: Acting-Evaluating-ActingStage Five Moderator QuestionsThinking Together about What Can be DoneThree Core Activities of Stage FiveConducting the Dialogue

    Assessing Conditions and CapacitiesConditionsHow Will the Conversation Itself Change?

    CapacitiesA Strategy for ImplementationWhat Responsibilities will Participants Assume?

    Action Can Take Many FormsContinuous EvaluationReflections

    Sustained Dialogues Promise:A Sustainable Capacity for Conflict Resolution and

    Community Problem SolvingPart IV. From Training to Practicing Sustained Dialogue: Gaining Mastery

    by Walking Along With

    Appendix: Guides for the Moderator

    1. Enhancing the Dialogue Experience: Ground Rules2. Deepening the Conversation in Stage Two3. Encouraging Passive Listeners to Engage4. Sustained Dialogues Niche


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    Community as the Laboratory for Learning

    The greatest untapped resources for meeting societys challenges are the energies andcapacities of citizens outside government. There are some things that only governmentscan do, and they must do them well. But there are some things only citizens outsidegovernment can dotransform conflictual human relationships, modify humanbehavior, and change political culture.For those citizens to make a difference, they must master change. They must learn toguide, manage, or adapt to change thrust upon them, or they must learn to generatechange when necessary. To master change, they must recognize that it is a continuousand broadly interactive processnot a one-time action.Change in societies proceeds from a cumulative, multilevel, open-ended

    process of continuous interaction among all actors who influence thecourse of eventscitizens both in and out of governmentas well as from factorsbeyond their control. The challenge for citizens is how to conduct that processto theextent of their capacitiesin the public interest and how to learn from their experience.This is a much more complex picture than the traditional one of a linearseries of actions and reactions traded between institutional actors such asgovernments and other influential stakeholders. It is more complex thannaming the political actors or defining democratic practices. It is about the

    processes through which citizens as political actors interacthow theyrelatein using those practices and institutions for public purposes. It is a

    far more inclusiveand therefore realisticreflection of the potentialsources of change. It is also continuously moving with change taking place on manylevels and in many quarters simultaneously. Not unlike the human body, manyprocesses are at work in the body politic at the same time.Also not unlike the human body, political processes develop from a series ofexperimentstrials and errorsand are constantly refined as they areused. That learning is at the heart of a political process.

    The space where we can most manageably work with, experience, and studythese processes is community. For citizens to discover their capacities as political

    actors, they must see themselves in the context of problems within their reachproblems that they can engage.

    First, mindset may be the first element to address in a theory of change.Whether citizens see themselves as responsible for solving their problems and able togenerate changeor choose to leave solutions to others, especially governmentmay bea critical determinant of whether and how change takes place.


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    Our theory of change is rooted in a new paradigm for the study and practiceof politicsa new way of describing how change happens. We call it the relationalparadigm. That paradigm broadens focus from the formal structures of state,government, political parties, and interest groups as the main agents of change to wholebodies politicto citizens outside as well as inside the structures of power.

    Often, citizens feel powerless to influence the larger social environment in which theylive. Operationally, the overarching challenge is to create spaces wherecitizens can discoverlearntheir capacities to influence the course ofchange and shift their mindset to see themselves as political actorstodiscover something they can do in tackling the problems they face.Since citizens will need to work with others to discover what they can do toinfluence change, the practical challenge is to make those spaces places

    where citizens can transform unproductive or destructive relationshipsinto the relationships necessary for them to act together. Politics is aboutrelationship. These must be spaces in which citizens can learn to relate to others whoare different and whom they may look down on, dislike, fear, or even think they hate.

    Second, citizens organizations may act as critical catalysts in a process ofchangebut only if they have learned to listen to citizens and to enter intotheir thinking rather than simply instructing them.

    A small group of citizens together may have the capacity to initiate and organize changeon their own. But often they may turn to citizens organizations that have developed aparticular instrument for generating change to learn whether it is consistent with theirpurposes. Such an instrument may be the catalyst that precipitates the citizens decisionthat there is something they can do. What is important is that the citizens make the

    decision. A citizens' organization may act as a catalyst by introducing a change process,training citizens to use it, and helping those citizens connect with others sharing theirobjective, but the citizens must control.Third, a change process begins with exploratory dialoguefirst efforts todiagnose a problem and citizens capacities to deal with it. Change begins whenindividuals talk with others about a problem they see as hurting their interests. We oftencall this period dialogue about dialogue.

    In every community every day in countless places, people talk about problems that affectthem. An appropriate metaphor is to think of these conversations as the political

    wetlands. In some communities, it may be possible to identify spaces where peopleactually gather regularly to talk. It may be a particular coffee shop, bar, pub, churchhospitality hour, civic club. Or it may be more free-wheeling and organic than place-based. The subjects are thrown up by a news story, by a hot issue being grappled withon the national stage, by a crime, by a disturbing local event. Or it may come from onepersons reflections on a trend he or she sees and feels strongly about. Whatever thetrigger, the talk pervades daily life. Sometimes the talk begins to crystallize around aproblem that arouses broad concern.


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    Exploratory dialogue can produce three products:

    A judgment that action is needed. One citizen may talk with another in theneighborhood, at the coffee shop, around the water cooler in the workplace, or in a

    social gathering about a problem that affects her or him. They begin to name theproblem in humannot expertterms that permit them to see their interests reflectedin the name. They may decide to meet informally. This is their first semi-formal steptoward action without yet knowing what specific action might be possible. As they planto meet, they will ask who else needs to be at the meeting to throw light on all sides ofthe problem and act to invite those others.A citizens decision to act. The turning point from recognition of a problem that ishurting people to a decision that something must be done and then to a decision thatthey can and must act seems to lie in citizens' discovery of something they personallycan do that they believe can make a difference and in their belief that others are likely tojoin them in such action. They make it their own problem. This exploratory space alsoprovides a face-saving venue to begin acquiring skills of collective work and testingothers willingness and capacity for such work.Selection of an instrument for change. Together or with a catalyst organization, citizensdecide to use a particular instrument for changethe something they can do. Theymust choose an instrument suited both to their capacities and to the nature of theproblem they have named. Is the problem primarily a technical issue of how best toachieve a practical objective or to accomplish a project? Or are people deeply divided bywhat they most value and by moral disagreement over what should be done? Or arethere deep underlying relational differences that prevent the people affected fromworking together?

    This may be a moment to cite for illustrative purposes two examples of commonlychosen instruments and the differences between them:

    Dialogue is a way of communicating in which parties listen to others carefully enough tobe changed by what they hear. That openness achieved in dialogue places dialogue at theheart of relationship. Dialogue, when sustained, can become a change process fortransforming relationships, designing action, and taking action. Sustained Dialoguediffers from most other change processes in two ways: (1) It focuses on the dynamics ofrelationship as a cause of difference over issues rather than primarily on issues intechnical terms. It heeds Einsteins warning: Genuine solutions to problems do not

    emerge from the thinking that caused them. (2) Because relationships are not changedeasily or quickly, Sustained Dialogue works from a carefully defined concept ofrelationship through a progression of five stages over time.

    Deliberation is a way of examining all sides of a problem and pros and cons of optionsfor approaching that problemincluding moral issues raised about which there may beprofound disagreementso as to make choices.


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    In an open-ended political process, citizens cannot necessarily know at the beginningexactly what the process will produce. Each concrete step forward may produce learningthat makes possible achievements that were not possible before. An active citizensgroup becomes a participant in the political process of continuous interaction andchange among the elements of the body politic. Continuous evaluation of progress

    together generates learning and deepens their relationshiptheir capacity to make mid-course corrections and to tackle new problems or opportunities as they arise.Judging progressevaluatingrequires a framework that fits what they are doing. Thistheory of change can provide such a framework up to a point. The framework thatdescribes the change process they have chosen can provide a fuller framework. Thosewho have chosen Sustained Dialogue can use the five-stage process to reflect on theirprogress. Their own design of a scenario of interactive steps with its stated objectiveswill provide a further framework. The concept of relationship may be a useful analyticaltool where changing destructive relationships is an objective. The framework must be acontinuing part of their process in advancing their work and in learning from what theydo.

    A democratic theory of societal change can transform random acts into thepurposeful conduct of a political process. Power is the capacity to influencethe course of events. Citizens can generate the power to accomplish theirgoals when they discoverlearnthat they can be capable actors in theprocess of continuous interaction that propels change.


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    Part I. The Scope of Sustained Dialogue

    What is Dialogue?

    Dialogue is a way of communicating in which parties listen to each other carefullyenough to be changed by what they hear. When sustained, dialogue can become achange process. Dialogue is the essence of relationship; relating productively andeffectively is the key to democratic political and economic development and to healthyorganizations.

    Debate Dialogue DiscussionAssuming that whateverthe answer is, it must not

    be based on personalexploration, but on

    tested reasoning

    Assuming that many people have pieces of ananswer and that together they can craft a solution

    Assuming there is one globalanswer that exists to clarify

    most experiences

    Combative: Participantsattempt to prove the

    other sides rationale asinferior

    Collaborative: Participants work together towarda sense of community and understanding

    Conceptual: Participants worktoward the formation of atheoretical community of

    generalities, frameworks, andcollective truths

    Debate is about winningDialogue is about learning from the valuable

    differences in experience in the room

    Discussion is about saying theright (intelligent, polished)

    thing or framing an ideacleanly

    Listening to find flawsand make


    Listening to both understand and find meaningfrom others experiences and emotional insights

    Listening to gather non-emotional, logical pieces of a

    large intellectual whole

    Silencing assumptionsand biases that dont

    have adequate evidence

    Admitting habitual assumptions and biases forreevaluation

    Minimizing the reality ofassumptions and biasesthrough large, agreeable

    framingCritiquing the other

    sides positionReexamining all positions by disrupting and

    destabilizing long held ideas

    Synthesizing a large, academictheory which may be distant

    from actual positionsDefending ones own

    views against those ofothers

    Actively using others thinking to complementones own

    Seeking out the most correctthinking according toacademic standards

    Searching for flaws andweaknesses in other


    Searching for the sources of, and the value inothers positions

    Searching for strengths andvalue in accepted frameworks

    Seeking a conclusion orvote that ratifies your

    positionDiscovering new opinions, not seeking closure

    Seeking a logically agreeableconclusion that blankets

    personal opinions

    What is Sustained Dialogue?


    The Dialogue vs. Discussion table was adapted from: Differentiating Dialogue From Discussion: A Working Model (Kardinand Sevi 1997

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    interactions among many different systems. What is important is the interplay andinterpenetration between entitiesnot just action by one on another.Sustained Dialogue is a processa progression of interactions designed to move towardan end. That end is social change.

    This characterization embedded in the new way of thinking about politics is in contrastto a pre-defined set of specific procedures to be executed in a prescribed order.Practitionerslike basketball playersneed to develop certain basic skills. Basketballplayers will practice particular shots endlessly until they become natural. SustainedDialogue practitioners will develop skills like active listening, crafting questions to drawparticipants out, and recognizing opportunities to open eyes to common concerns. Butthey also need to internalize the process of interaction as basketball players do so theyare able to work at the center of a complex of probably hostile interactions to movetoward a goal. In Sustained Dialogue, that goal is to turn those interactions into anexperience in discovering the deep roots of problems so as to transform relationshipsand produce change.

    Sustained Dialogues focus on transforming dysfunctional, unproductive or deeplyconflicted relationships that cause problems as the first step toward conflict-resolutionor problem transformation and its systematic process for change distinguish it fromother approaches that focus on the problem itself. Sustained Dialogue thus goes to theroot to solve the problem, not just manage it. Those engaged in Sustained Dialogueboth co-create the context where dysfunctional relationships can be transformed andbuild on this to solve the issues or challenges that motivated people to enter thedialogue.

    How was Sustained Dialogue Developed?Sustained Dialogue was developed by Hal Saunders as he sought to conceptualize and togive coherent form to a variety of experiences in his professional life.

    From his experiences as a senior State Department official, participant in the KissingerShuttle Diplomacy after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, and senior negotiator of the CampDavid Accords in 1977, he learned three lessons:First, the power of a continuous political process to transform conflictual relationships.A small high-level U.S. mediating team headed by two Secretaries of State with fullsupport of three Presidents mediated five Arab-Israeli agreements, 1974-1979, including

    the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. These agreements were produced by almostcontinuous engagement through repeated trips to the Middle East. The strategy was tomove the parties as far as possible in each agreement in the expectation that theimplementation of each agreement would increase peoples sense that peace might bepossible. Todays agreement would make it possible to negotiate tomorrow what wasnot possible yesterday.

    Second, the importance of the human dimension of conflict. One could not talk with the


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    Israelis without seeing how the fear of annihilation stemming from the Nazi Holocaustaffected their identity; nor with the Arabs without sensing their humiliation at defeatsby Israel in three major wars; nor with the Palestinians, who had lost their homes in1948-49 when Israel was established or in 1967 when Israel occupied the West Bank andGaza. All knew someone wounded or killed in one of these conflicts. Each person knew

    pain in a very personal way.Third, it was more realistic to think in terms of whole bodies politic than only in termsof states and their governments. To be sure, Hal says, we were mediating agreementsbetween governments, but peoples perceptions about possible new relationships werechanged. Egyptian President Anwar Sadats historic visit to Israel in 1977the first Arableader ever to set foot on Israeli soildramatically changed Israeli citizens perception ofthe possibility of peace. I think its fair to say that their changed perceptions gave theIsraeli government permission to negotiate the peace treaty with Egypt in 1978-79.

    In 1981, now as a private citizen, Hal became Co-Chairman of the U.S.-SovietDartmouth Task Force on Regional Conflicts, with Evgeny Primakov, who becameForeign Minister then Prime Minister of Russia in the 1990s. From these dialogues,meeting throughout the 1980s for three days every six months, Hal learned fouradditional lessons:First, the fact that bringing the same participants back together time after time createdthe opportunity to develop a cumulative agenda with questions left hanging at the end ofone meeting worked on between meetings and providing the starting agenda for thenext. This was the substantive essence of the process of Sustained Dialogue. It graduallycontributed to the groups sense of working together on problems both cared about.

    Second, the group gradually learned to talk analytically rather than polemically. At the

    beginning, the Soviets felt required by their political system to repeat the currentCommunist Party diatribe at the beginning of each meeting. Then, at one meetingPrimakov proposed that participants be allowed to express their criticism or anger atevents since the last meeting up until the first coffee break. Hearing these feelings fromboth sides was important for understanding where each side was coming from, butPrimakovs formula permitted us to move to more analytical talk as soon as possible.Third, the group developed a common body of knowledgeknowledge not just of whateach governments position was but of why governments took the positions they took.That deepened our insight into the real interests on each side.

    Fourth, participants learned to work together. In the later 1980s, they developedpossible approaches to conflicts such as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Then in the 1990s,three Americans and three Soviets under the auspices of the Task Force applied theprocess of what was later called Sustained Dialogue that they had learned together toone of the conflicts that had broken out on the territory of the former Soviet Unionthecivil war in the former Soviet Republic of Tajikistan.Finally in 1990-91, looking back over the continuing experience of the Dartmouth Task


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    Force, Hal began to see that bringing the same people together repeatedly over time inthe context of a dialogue committed to resolve problems provided the context for adiscernable evolution of relationships. After several experiments, he laid out thatprogression of experience as a five-stage process.

    As it happened, the dialogue among individuals from the different factions in the civilwar in Tajikistan was the first test of the five-stage process. It turned out to be almost atextbook example of the five stages, which are discussed in detail below.

    What Challenges or Problems Can Sustained DialogueAddress?Wherever unproductive human relationships lie at the root of social, community, ororganizational problems, Sustained Dialogue becomes an appropriate and powerfulapproach. Examples of such problems abound, from armed and/or ethnic conflicts; tocreating the foundation for a more democratic society; to addressing challenges arising

    from religious and other forms of deep conviction; to addressing the relationalroadblocks that hinder community economic development; to overcoming deeply-rooted racial attitudes and redressing grievances; to corporate relationships withcommunities, particularly where corporate activities threaten the culture and/or welfareof local communities; and to improving internal corporate or organizational alignmentand performance, among others.

    These relationships may involve individuals who know each other, as well as individualswho may have no direct individual knowledge of the others beyond a generalized label,or involve impersonal institutional entities such as the government or miningcompanies, bankers or the Congress. Differences in perspectives, formed by

    differences in identity, interests and power, differences only deepened by stereotypesand sustained by patterns of dysfunctional interaction, lie at the root of nearly all ourmost persistent and challenging social, community and organizational problems.

    Sustained dialogue starts out by accepting that the problem to be solved will be woventhrough with these relational threads and knots, and works toward a solution by pickingout and addressing these complications, which often will eventually doom any effortthat papers them over. Sustained Dialogue takes full cognizance of Albert Einsteinswarning: Problems cannot be resolved by the thinking that created them.

    Where Has Sustained Dialogue Been Applied?

    International Conflicts:1. The Arab-Israeli conflict: Though Sustained Dialogue in its present form was notemployed in this conflict directly, we note it because it was, in significant part, throughHal Saunders direct experience as a part of the Kissinger shuttle diplomacy after the1973 Arab-Israeli war, negotiating the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and the Camp DavidAccords that he came to recognize that peace was not possible without changingrelationships among citizens. Most importantly, when Egyptian President Anwar


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    Sadats appeared and spoke before the Israeli Knesset, an unprecedented and dramaticevent, Hal observed that relationships among people still formally at war can bechanged in a productive direction. (See, The Other Walls, by Harold Saunders)2. The U.S.-Soviet Dartmouth Conference: This series of meetings constituted

    from the early 1960s the primary high-level informal communications network betweenthe White House and the Kremlin through citizens outside government. Both HalSaunders and Phil Stewart are long-term, senior participants in this dialogue which,having already met more than 125 times, celebrates its 50th anniversary in October,2010. Through meeting every six months with the same high-level Soviet counterpartsthroughout the 1980s in a task force addressing such regions of conflict as Afghanistan,South Africa, Nicaragua, and the Middle East, we observed first-hand thetransformation of relationships divided by worldview, by interests, by power, byprofoundly embedded stereotypes regularly reinforced by Cold War patterns ofinteraction into productive, respectful, even collaborative relationships amongadversaries. We experienced here what Hal later conceptualized as Sustained Dialogue.3. Tajikistan (1993-2005): At the suggestion of our now Russian colleagues in theDartmouth Conference, we were jointly invited to bring our experience in dialogue tosee if we together could help the Tajiks resolve what by 1993 was a vicious civil war thathad already taken more than 50,000 lives in a poor country of only 6 million. Fivecontextual factors, beyond the value of the approach itself, seemed critical in SustainedDialogues productive role in this conflict. First, the dialogue was able to facilitate theformation of a more-or-less unified opposition, so that the government had someone totalk with. Second, ours was the only unofficial channel of communication among theparties at the height of the civil war. Third, participants in the dialogue represented allof the key decision-makers in the conflict. Fourth, several dialogue participants becamesimultaneously members of the official, UN sponsored, peace-negotiating team. Fifth,

    this conflict was primarily one of conflicting interests rather than threats to identity.Following the signing of a UN mediated peace agreement in 1997, the Tajiki invited us tocontinue the dialogue with a focus initially on facilitating national reconciliation,moving next to strengthening the foundations of democracy, to using SustainedDialogue to enable fifteen poor, divided communities to come together to create andimplement local economic development projects, following which we trained localmoderators to use Sustained Dialogue to enable communities throughout the country toopenly discuss the appeals and challenges of Islamic extremism. Twice in recent years,with the support of their government, Tajik veterans of Sustained Dialogue have invitedus to reconvene the dialogue as a safe space where they could consider ways to enable

    their country to meet the challenges of being one of the poorest in the world.4. Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict (2001-2007): This work was specificallyundertaken to test the limits of Sustained Dialogue by attempting to address a conflictthat had seen no movement toward resolution nor showed any promise of doing so inthe 7 years following a ceasefire that ended the fighting in 1994. Weve been surprised atjust how far Sustained Dialogue has been able to go. It took 1.5 years and nine days ofmeetings for participants to get sufficiently past the need for venting or giving voice to


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    difficult losses and deep hurts before they became ready to engage in the deep listeningthat finally enabled the transformation of relationships and the application of their jointcreativity to how to resolve this frozen conflict. By the 9th meeting, and 24 days ofdialogue over 6 years, the group had produced a Framework for a Peace Process in theregion to which all dialogue participants were able to agree and commit to


    The lack of success in this implementation effort to date is largely accounted for by: 1) Asharp shift in official Azeri thinking leading to the exclusion of the only participant closeto President Ilham Aliyev; 2) the lack of any Armenian participants with the ear of theirgovernment; 3) the practice of keeping the entire official negotiating process secret andtotally in the hands of the Presidents; and 4) growing authoritarian tendencies in bothcountries which limited the capacity of dialogue participants to build support for theirwork among a broader public.

    5. The Arab-American-European Dialogue (2003-2006): The objective of thisdialogue was to build meaningful relationships between influential and thoughtfulwesterners and the politically excluded Arab leadership of democratic movements, somewith moderate Islamic roots. These latter seldom had any contacts with Westerners.The relationships created during 9 meetings over three years, including additionalsmall-group meetings and visits to Arab and Western countries, inspired the formationof the Arab Democracy Network. This Network of young, male and female Arab scholarsfrom 9 Middle Eastern and North African countries is sharing experience andcollaborating in an effort to introduce and root dialogic and deliberative approaches topolitics in these traditionally authoritarian societies.6. Dialogue on Iraqi National Reconciliation (2007-present): Undertaken withthe political support of the Iraqi Prime Minister as well as that of all Iraqi political

    parties and movements other than Al Qaeda, after four meetings produced a plan for anindependent commission on national reconciliation supported by all participants.Critical to the capacity of this dialogue to bring its work into the political arena, one keyparticipant is chairman of the Parliamentary committee on national reconciliation.Following agreement during the dialogue, legislation giving it official sanction and animplementation mechanism was introduced into the Iraq legislature in May, 2008.Additional factors important to the success of this dialogue have been the following: 1)high level Iraqi and U.S. political support, 2) recognition by nearly all parties of theurgency of finding ways out of the internecine conflict, 3) recognition of this dialogue asproviding such a possibility, and 4) readiness among participants to work through theirdeeply-rooted ethnic, religious, and political differences. This dialogue continues today

    under Italian leadership, focusing on experiments with implementing the strategiesagreed by the dialogue.College Campuses and Communities:Sustained Dialogue Campus Network (1999-present): Begun on the campus ofPrinceton University in 1999 as a small group of students of several races andethnicities, looking for effective ways to address racial self-segregation and tensions oncampus, discovered Sustained Dialogue and adapted it to their needs. Since that time,


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    this student-led, student-owned, program has spread to more than 18 U.S. collegecampuses, from the University of Virginia, to Notre Dame, to Northwestern, ColoradoState and even the University of Hawaii. Supported by a two-to-three person staff, andorganized as the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, within the InternationalInstitute of Sustained Dialogue, this program engages several thousand students per

    year in dialogues, meeting approximately 20 times per academic year, and focusedprimarily on racial issues on campus. This student-led project has had three principalresults: 1) thousands of young people have transformed their relationships with peopleof different races, ethnicities and religions; 2) they have become more reflective,sensitive and effective in addressing racial issues in their communities and our society;and 3) a significant cadre of young people has been formed that is committed tobringing into their work places, their communities, and the globe at large the attitudes,perspectives and skills learned through their campus experience with SustainedDialogue.Community and Corporate Relations:1) Community Dialogues (1995-2006):

    a) The first use of Sustained Dialogue in the United States took place in adialogue on race relations begun in Baton Rouge, Louisiana organized and moderatedby a black and a white pastor under the auspices of the Federation of Churches andSynagogues.

    b) From 1999-2001, Hal Saunders and colleagues at the Kettering Foundationheld a five workshop series over two years with four representatives from each of fiveNorth American NGOs who wanted to use Sustained Dialogue to further their programs.The workshop began as the participants were about to begin organizing their program,and the sessions, after presenting an overview, were scheduled to walk along with themas they moved from stage to stage. These dialogues took place in Akron and Columbus,

    Ohio; Hampton Roads, Virginia; Rapid City, South Dakota; Bella Coola, BritishColumbia.

    c) From 2004-2006, veterans of the Inter-Tajik Dialogue organized dialogues inseven regions of Tajikistan on State, Religion and Society, Tajikistan being the onlycountry in Central Asia with a legitimate Islamic party and receiving radical Islamicclerics from Taliban Afghanistan and Pakistan.2) Community Economic Development: From 2004 to the present, TajikistansPublic Committee for Democratic Practices organized 15 Economic DevelopmentCommittees to help citizens of communities that had been torn apart by their civil war

    to heal the human divisions by bringing citizens together in dialogue to learn to worktogether to rebuild their communities.3) Dialogue between Barrett Mining Company and Shoshone native peoples(2004-present): This is a relatively new dimension to the work of Sustained Dialogue.In this particular project, Sustained Dialogue has been utilized in innovative ways, butwith the same goal of transforming conflicted into productive relationships, by a skilledmoderator unaffiliated with IISD. One important and essential innovation was to use


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    as the power that comes from acting with others with whom we share onlylimited interests.

    4) Perceptions and misperceptions or stereotypes of the other that make itdifficult to see or develop empathy for others as whole human beings.

    5) Patterns of interaction, or the habitual ways in which separateness, tension orconflict may be embedded and daily reinforced, or when appropriately re-structured, may gradually overcome fear and distrust and make collaborationpossible.

    Most often, these concepts never explicitly enter the dialogue as subjects in themselves.Rather, throughout a Sustained Dialogue, the skilled moderator uses these five elementsto frame what he or she listens for, as well as the questions he or she poses. To achieveunderstanding requires attentive, active listening. To create a dialogue environment inwhich participants become transformed by what they hear requires questions thatencourage honest and open discussion that reveals the full context in which eachelement is embedded, while at the same time encouraging others to understand thatcontext; that is, to develop empathy.

    Once we analyze interactions between or among individuals and groups, we can actuallychange their character through dialogue. Identities may initially seem static and non-negotiable, but respect for anothers identity can become real. Changes in relationshipthat can result are:

    Recognition of others interests can reveal shared interests.

    People can see how they need each other to fulfill their own interests.

    Power over can become power with. Stereotypes fade as people sit together and come to see each other as whole human

    beings. People stop talking at each other and actually learn to work together, building on the

    capacities of the whole group, and their ties to the larger community/organization tosolve a problem.

    Individuals begin to make these transformations in their relationships with others asthey begin to:

    Understand emotionally as well as intellectually each others identities and interests.

    Gain a sense of interdependence and see how each others identities and interestsconnect.

    Realize their individual and collective power as citizens to change their community.

    Identify and work to change their perceptions, misperceptions and stereotypes.

    Actively create new or improve old ways of interacting and relating to one another.Given the centrality and uniqueness of relationship to Sustained Dialogue, the largestpart of this manual is devoted to creating experiences that can help you gain insights


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    into and understanding of the power of our concept of relationship.

    The Five Stages of Sustained Dialogue

    As has been noted, two characteristics distinguish Sustained Dialogue from other

    change processes. These are (1) its focus on the relationships that cause conflict, notjust on the issues over which people fight. (2) The second characteristic thatdistinguishes Sustained Dialogue from other change processes is that it provides asystematic process which (a) takes as much time as needed to probe the dynamics ofdysfunctional relationships using a carefully defined concept of relationship and then(b) builds upon these transformed relationships to probe the roots of the problem,deliberate and choose directions for action, design scenarios of interactive steps, andtake action. Participants systematically work through the well-tested five-stageSustained Dialogue process.Transforming relationships characterized by significant differences in identity, interests

    or power, as well as by persistent stereotypes, particularly when these differences arereinforced by daily patterns of interaction, can only be accomplished slowly and over anextended period of time. Sustained Dialogue brings the same people together in asequence of meetings to work their way systematically through a progression ofexperiences, conceptualized as five stages that reveal its powers to solve deeply rootedhuman problems:

    Stage OneDeciding to Engage: In this stage, citizens come to the conclusionthat they face a deeply-rooted problem that must be addressed, the choose anapproach. If they choose Sustained Dialogue, they take essential organizationalsteps to prepare for a series of meetings.

    Stage TwoTransforming Relationships & Naming the Problem: In this stage,

    participants explore the full dimensions of the problem, in the course of whichthey develop sufficient understanding of the relationship issues underlying theproblem to move from adversaries to colleagues, at least around the table.

    Stage ThreeMaking Choices, Setting a Course: Here, participants explore in

    depth the dynamics of the relationships underlying the problem, frame possiblechoices for improving those relationships and weigh the pros and cons of each.

    Stage FourDesigning Change: Scenarios of Inter-Dependent Steps: At this

    stage, the group begins into a new way of thinking together about how to generatethe change they would like to see happen, and then they design a scenario forchange.

    Stage FiveActing-Evaluating-Acting: In Stage Five, participants ask what can be

    done. How can a small group translate personal experiences of changedrelationships into societal change? Realistically, How far can this process reach?They act to implement their scenario, evaluate results, redesign, and re-enter the


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    world to act further.Each stage is characterized by distinctive tasks, questions, and approaches. Movementfrom stage to stage, however, is seldom linear. As understanding of the problemdeepens, especially in Stage Three, the group may recognize the need to recruit new

    participants. Even if the group has worked through the transformation of relationships,new participants need the opportunity engage in the transformative Stage Twoexperience.

    As the group is developing approaches, newly exposed and as yet unresolved differencesaround identity, interests or power may block further progress, necessitating a return toStage Two, relationship transformation, and so forth throughout the process. Thismovement back-and-forth between stages will be a common characteristic of theprocess. In fact, an increased level of comfort of moving in this way will be an indicatorof the maturation of the dialogue process. The remainder of this manual is devoted toexamining each stage in detail.

    Stage One: Deciding to Engage


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    What brings leaders, activists, and citizens to decide to engage in Sustained Dialogue?Most often, a crisis, either long-festering or highly threatening serves as the impetus.However, given the substantial time and other resource commitments SustainedDialogue requires, seldom is this approach chosen first. In international or internal

    armed conflicts, officials most readily turn to negotiation or mediation to solve theimmediate problem. In American society, the first approach is often to pursue legalremedies. Other approaches adopted to deal with persistent social and economicchallenges include relying on experts or using methods that encourage politeconversation, all the while ignoring the underlying differences in identity, interests andpower that caused the problem.

    Building a Team around a Problem: Social change of this kind naturally beginswhen a few citizens recognize a problem and begin talking about it informally. Theygradually come to the view that something needs to be done, and then that theythemselves need to act. Having defined the problem in a general way, they begin talking

    about what they could do. Perhaps a member of the group will have had a previousexperience with an approach to such a problem or perhaps someone will know of agroup that could help them learn an approach such as Sustained Dialogue. Wesometimes think of such a group as a catalysta group that interacts with a cluster ofcitizens looking for an instrument to help them change what needs to be changed. Whenthey have learned more about the process and decided to try it, they will take the firststeps.Why Choose Sustained Dialogue? People in conflict or those attempting toaddress complex social problems tend neither to think of nor to reach out to SustainedDialogue as a first choice. Sustained Dialogue promises no quick fixes. It takes time,resources, and commitment from all involved, even for skilled facilitators, sincemoderating Sustained Dialogue effectively is not easily or quickly learned, nor progresson significant problems quickly achieved. But, where it has been embraced and given achance, Sustained Dialogue has proven highly effective in bringing about long-term,sustainable transformations.So, then, what leads people in varying degrees of tension to try Sustained Dialogue?Four conditions tend to make Sustained Dialogue an attractive approach to conflictresolution:

    1) There is a clear issue, problem or conflict that has a strong and persistent impacton significant numbers of people, usually from diverse segments of society.

    2) Easier methods, focused directly on the apparent issues have been tried and

    either failed or led nowhere. Such approaches often include negotiation,mediation or various other forms of discussion. These tend to fail when theconditions for success are neither present nor generated in the process, that is,when the underlying relationship issues are ignored or not adequately addressed.

    3) A sense of crisis, either immediate or impending, is present. Crisis creates


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    recognition that something still must be done, encouraging a readiness to try newapproaches and to commit the time and resources needed.

    4) More rarely, people in conflict come to recognize that dysfunctional relationshipslie at the root of the conflict and that unless these are addressed little lasting

    progress toward conflict transformation is likely.

    Questions to Consider prior to Convening: To lay the groundwork forprospective participants to respond to the dialogue invitation, the organizers must do amore systematic assessment of its purpose and circumstances. Considering thefollowing kinds of issues may help to clarify the specific problem on which to focus, andthe scope of the challenges in convening a dialogue group capable of addressing thatchallenge through Sustained Dialogue:

    1) The list of issues or problems most commonly referred to in habitualconversations (e.g. apathy, violence, mistrust),

    2) Any recognized aspirations toward which there may appear to begeneralized consensus (e.g. racial harmony, or peace),

    3) The degree to which there is an established loyalty of place or strongcommunity identity (or whether this issayan immigrant communityof recent creation),

    4) Are there salient, respected, impartial voices in the community (sayreligious or elder members),

    5) Are there binding links already established (e.g. a proud shared

    heritage, a common language, a common faith),

    6) Are there places, physical or virtual, where people already congregateas safe places, and

    7) Are there established generalized stereotypes that would hamperconversation from the start (e.g. we have never accomplished anythingtogether in the past and are unable to do so).1

    11 Copyright, The Harwood Institute. Used with permission.


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    Who is an Appropriate Convener? The convener can be an individual, a smallgroup, an organization or some combination. The convener invites participants andprovides space for the Sustained Dialogue. Most importantly, the right convenerprovides assurances to participants of the credibility, neutrality and safety of theprocess. So, this is more than a formal role. To be effective, the convener should exhibitthe following traits:

    1) Be perceived as respected but neutral by all sides of the conflict, or by all partiesthat need to be engaged, regarding outcomes or solutions to the presenting issue.

    2) Know and respect the communities true concerns, thoroughly understand thechallenge to be addressed, be committed to sticking with the process over anextended period in order to justify the trust bestowed by the dialogueparticipants.

    3) Be perceived as not supporting any one side or group more than another. Whileit may be useful at times for a convener to be perceived as having substantialinfluence with all of the parties, it is not helpful if the convener is seen as capableor ready to use such influence to determine the substantive outcome.

    4) The convener must have knowledge of, access to and some credibility with all

    parties, including governments where relevant, whose participation is essential to


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    a sustainable resolution or transformation of the issue.2

    Choosing a Sustained Dialogue Moderator: The normal practice in all of ourSustained Dialogues is to form a moderator team. We always have at least two andsometimes four co-moderators to conduct the dialogue sessions. In some cultures and

    circumstances it is both essential and valuable to recruit one moderator from eachcompeting or contending side. This communicates a readiness to be fair to all sides,which may be essential to winning the readiness of the appropriate participants to jointhe dialogue.

    On other occasions, for example, our dialogues in Tajikistan and in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, we formed a Russian-American moderating team, as neither sidewas prepared to meet under either an American or a Russian umbrella, but actingtogether under the flag of the U.S. Russian Dartmouth Conference, each of the partiesin conflict felt this would create a safe space. In addition to actual session moderators,this team normally includes dialogue organizers and note-takers. Careful note-takingmakes possible meaningful post-session analysis and preparation for the next round.Good records also make possible systematic and cumulative learning over time from theprocess, by moderators and others.Not everyone, however, is suited to be a Sustained Dialogue moderator. This isparticularly so in situations of high conflict, but even where conflict is not directlyvisible, as the exercises in this training will demonstrate, moderating SustainedDialogue requires more than the usual facilitator skills. For this reason, as well as toprovide on-going training and coaching, experienced staff from IISD are often invited towalk-along with those trying out Sustained Dialogue for the first time.

    Below is a self-administered guide you may use to assess your own suitability as a

    moderator of Sustained Dialogue.



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    Exercise: Qualities of a Sustained Dialogue Moderator

    A Self-Assessment (15 Minutes)

    Rate yourself on each of the qualities weve found essential in an effective moderator of

    Sustained Dialogue. Read each statement, reflect, and then circle the number mostclosely corresponding to your self-assessment on the following scale: 1) Not me at all;

    2) Show it sometimes but most often not; 3) Show it about half the time; 4) Show it most

    of the time; 5) This is my normal way of being.

    Sustained Dialogue Moderator Self-Assessment

    1. I am comfortable being vulnerable in front of others, even in situations of high

    tension and conflict. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

    2. When moderating, I am perceived by others as fair and neutral, even in situations ofhigh tension and conflict. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

    3. I have a high tolerance for ambiguity. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

    4. I listen analytically even in situations of high tension and conflict.

    1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

    5. I model active listening. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

    6. I have a high level of patience, even in situations of high tension and conflict.1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

    7. I recognize that nearly all points of view have some legitimate elements.

    1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

    8. I feel fully comfortable working with individuals and groups whose identity, values,

    language and culture may be in profound tension with my own.

    1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

    9. I have a well-developed capacity for formulating and asking questions thatencourage each participant to find her or his own voice, while listening with intent to

    understand others. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

    Sum your scores:


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    Note your areas of greatest weakness:

    Identify actions or reflections you might undertake to address your weaknesses:

    Moderating Skills: Asking Good Questions & Active ListeningBelow are some suggestions and guides to help improve your moderating skills. These arevery helpful techniques and information that you are encouraged to use. But again, dontbe afraid to think outside the box. You will com to know your group better than the manualdoes, so assess the situation and do what you think is best for the group.The following questions guide this section:

    What are the right questions to ask?

    How can I be an effective active listener?

    How can I pursue what Im hearing more deeply?

    Questioning DOs Dialogue enhancers

    Encourage Tell us some more. / You were saying. / Tell us whathappened.

    Clarify Im not sure I understand. Did you say..

    Affirm I want to thank you both for coming, this is a good first step to resolving

    your problem.Checks/Summarize Please let me know if I understand you correctly. So far youve

    said ___ .Is that right?

    Perception Check It sounds like youre really angry. / It sounds like you arevery proud of your children. /So you feel you dideverything you could to be friendly.

    Validate I can hear that you are really upset with this situation. Its okayto be angry. You feel that you have really been through anordeal.

    Identify Values You see yourself as a considerate neighbor and it is important

    to you that everyone looks out for each other; is that right?

    Paraphrase (Statement by Ms. Y: First it was letter and phone calls, now hes


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    pounding on the walls constantly.) Things have been getting worsebetween you and Mr. X.

    Questioning Donts Dialogue stoppers

    Evaluate It appears as if you really werent using your head.Conclude So it sounds like what happened was that Jane didnt get the attention

    she wanted from her story.

    Instruct or Advise You know its illegal to... / What you should do is talk to yourmother about it

    Analyze Its clear that you havent been able to admit to yourself.

    Lecture Arent you trying to say that you really didnt care?

    Provoke Rebuttal Mr. X just told us you deliberately play your music to annoyhim. What do you have to say to that?

    Ask Yes or No Questions Are you unhappy with this situation?

    Interrogate What were you doing there? / Who else was there? /How long did you stay?

    Becoming an Active ListenerConflict usually involves a breakdown in communication. In order to communicateeffectively and resolve their conflict, people need to hear and understand each other.The key to hearing and understanding is activelistening.

    Active listening enables the moderator to:

    Hear what the participant is saying, Hear what the participant is feeling,

    Let the participant know (feedback) that he/she has really been heard,

    Feel empathetic,

    Gain trust, and

    Enable an atmosphere of suspended judgment and impartiality.By being active listeners, the moderator models behavior that encourages people to express


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    themselves and to listen more openly and fully to the entire group. The moderatorsresponses help participants to understand their experiences in a new way.

    Four Components of Active Listening

    1. Listen carefullywith special attention to your tone of voice (uh huh, I see,etc.) and body language (eye contact, alert posture, an attentive facial expression) show that you are interested and present.

    2. Validating the participants feelings without agreement or approval communicatesto the participant that you have heard and perceived their emotion. Ex. I can seeyou feel that you behaved responsibly, that you were doing the right thing.

    3. Identifying emotion enables participants to express themselves more clearly andfully. Ex: You said its been a difficult time for you recently. Could you tell us a littlemore about that?

    4. Paraphrasing helps to check moderators perceptions and to clarify what has beensaid. Ex: Youre saying that the situation has gone from bad to worse. Sounds asif, in addition to feeling frustrated, you felt very hurt.

    How can I pursue what Im hearing more deeply? One of your goals as amoderator is to help the issues behind participants fears emerge so that they can bediscussed. The top and bottom layer concept can help clarify this point

    Layers of Listening





    Word Choice


    Fears Insecurities






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    Top layer WHAT you hear and HOW itsounds

    Content, Tone, Pace,Word choice. Volume

    BottomLayer WHY theyre saying it. Emotion, Thoughts, Feelings,Fears, InsecuritiesBy asking deeper, probing questions that get at thebottom layer, you enrich theconversation and get participants to open themselves up to the group. Yes or no questionsthat deal solely with what you hear dont have the same effect.

    As your group becomes more familiar and everyone has shared, look back at your notesand use the concept of relationship to see whose stories and experiences are contradictoryor complementary. Use these contradictions to probe the participants interactions withone another in dialogue. For example, listen if one participant said something that relatesto what another said, and then lead a conversation that includes them both. This may beuncomfortable for the participants at first, but use this discomfort to benefit the dialogue.This is a great way of looking for relational dynamics.

    An Open or Closed Meeting? Sunshine laws in the U.S. require that when electedor appointed officials meet with citizens to discuss issues these meetings must be opento all comers. Sustained Dialogue is generally neither appropriate nor effective undersuch conditions. Transforming relationships in conflict requires safe spaces where thesame people can meet repeatedly as often as it takes to address dysfunctionalrelationships and design change. Realistically, this requires closed meetings to whichthe convener invites individual participants.

    This does not mean, however, that officials must always be excluded nor that their viewscannot be expressed. Indeed, officials are parties to most significant conflicts and mustbe a part of their resolution. So, then, how do we bring official voices into the dialogue?We have successfully employed the following approaches:

    1) In international meetings, officials have participated in their private capacity.In the U.S. Russia Dartmouth Conference, for example, participants come fromthe Department of State and the National Security Council staff in the U.S. andfrom the Presidential Administration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs inRussia, but participate as private citizens.

    2) Similar approaches have been adopted in student Sustained Dialogues on college

    campuses. When presidents, deans and faculty have participated, they leave theirofficial titles at the door.

    3) Alternatively, we invite private citizens with close personal ties to officials or non-governmental leaders. In Tajikistan, this strategy eventuates in three participantsin the dialogue, representing different sides in the conflict, becomingsimultaneously members of the team negotiating the UN brokered peace accords.In Azerbaijan, for several years, this approach created a direct channel between


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    the dialogue and President Aliyev.

    4) In community dialogues, official representatives could be invited as participantsbut care must be taken that they remain and are seen by the others as only intheir private role. Mid-level officials are therefore less intimidating to others and

    less likely to seek control over the process than high-level ones. An officialpresence has the dual advantage of presenting the voice of a legitimate (or,pragmatically, at least important) voice as well as diminishing any suspicion thatmay arise in official circles about a process from which they may feel excluded.Thus a recent community dialogue over more effective waste management inCuba included representatives of the all-seeing Committee for the Defense of theRevolution who comfortably engaged as participants in what became, at time,acrimonious conversation.

    Who Needs to be in the Room? Our experience in Tajikistan, Iraq and especially inthe conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but as well in communities andorganizations, demonstrates the critical importance of not only asking this question buttaking the time to assure that the voices of those organizations, leaders, and individualswithout whom the core substantive problem to be resolved either cannot or is unlikely tobe addressable effectively are represented directly in the dialogue. No one should beallowed to speak for the interests of others not in the room. By posing this question, bygetting conveners and organizers, from the beginning, to go outside their circle ofcomfort, we at once encourage those with whom we are collaborating to begin thinkingabout the deeper roots of the problem they seek to address.

    Dealing with most political, social, economic and organizational conflicts and challengesrequires engagement by representatives of the many forces whose inability to relateeffectively has given rise to the problem. Sustained Dialogue, however, does not require

    any kind of politically correct representativeness. Rather, it is those at the roots of theproblem, those with deep links to the affected community, institution or issue, thosewho need to think creatively together about potential approaches to the problem andthose whose active participation is critical to its resolution, who must be represented inthe dialogue. It could be justified, in which case it should be made explicit, that extremevoices for the positions discussed in the dialogue be invited to participate only later,after the dynamics of the dialogue has been allowed to take hold.

    How Many Participants in a Sustained Dialogue? We have conductedSustained Dialogues where the dialogue is conducted serially between a moderator andeach participant individually, and all the way to 25 participants around one table. The

    most effective size, however, tends to be between 12 and 18 participants. This latter islarge enough to represent critical leaders, groups and interests, yet small enough toencourage the openness essential to transforming relationships.

    How Can You Overcome Resistance to Entering a Sustained Dialogue?Often, potential participants are reluctant or even fearfulwith good reasontomeeting with people who may seem threatening in some way. Some feel safer with aknown situation or are not ready to face others pain. Some deny that a problem exists


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    at all because they are not ready to deal with it. Others blame the other group for beingunwilling to talk. The challenge is to cause people to see a long-term problem aswarranting a systematic dialogue before it reaches a violent stage or to cause people toacknowledge that suffering has gone on long enough. If there is no overt violence,people often deny that there is a problem.

    Questions such as these may help in overcoming resistance:

    The situation seems calm now, but do you want to leave it to your children thisway?

    Do you see tensions under the surface that could cause trouble? Should an

    effort be made now to try to head them off? What would your children face ifrelationships continue as they are? How do others feel?

    Why dont people want to talk? What are they, what are you afraid of?Another challengeeven when people are talkingis to get them to realize that they arenot really talking about the problems in their relationships that cause the trouble.Groups may have learned that it is in their own self-interest to work together in commonprojects or workplaces but carefully avoid talking about underlying tensions in theirrelationships so as not to disrupt minimal necessary cooperation. But we do talk, theysay.

    If you think seriously about present relationships, could you tell some stories

    about underlying tensions? Or do you really believe that no tensions exist? Can you give examples of what kind of talking goes on now? Does it go to the

    heart of the underlying relationships that cause tensions? Or does it skirtaround them?

    When tensions have risen or already erupted in some way, people on all sides maybelieve that time is on their side and that its passing will reduce tensions, or the problemwill resolve itself to their benefit. Some may even need conflict to define their identity.The problem is how to convince people that tensions usually deepen rather thandisappear with time if not dealt with.

    What are the costs to you and your community of continuing tension? Does

    anyone gain from this tension? If so, who and how?

    What will your children and grandchildren face if relationships continue asthey are? How much longer can you tolerate this situation? When is enough,enough?


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    Is this the kind of community/country you want your children to grow up in?Later, if tensions are already escalating, some might believe that they have alreadyinvested too much in pressing their positions to give up now. Talking to the othercommunity could even be seen as selling out in some way. The question is how to

    cause people to see that they are interdependent with the other community and that itserves their own interests to engage in a systematic dialogue with them.

    How much longer can this go on? When is it time to say enough?

    Do you believe there are individuals in the other community who want to talk?

    Are there influential people in your community who would like to explore waysof dealing with underlying tensions and improving relationships?

    Would the potential benefits of quiet exploration outweigh the costs?

    What kind of permission would you need in order to explore the othercommunitys views? From who would you gain this permission?

    Questions to Consider in Selecting Sustained Dialogue Participants:

    Do I/we understand the conflict/problem well enough to identify all of thegroups and perspectives that have given rise to it?

    If not, how can I/we most efficiently obtain such knowledge?

    What are or will be the critical decision-making bodies relevant to addressingthis issue?

    Can I/we identify dialogue participants with credible access? In our sense, thepublic engaged in or impacted by this conflict/problem is one of the criticaldecision-making bodies. Ultimately, only citizens can make peace.

    Can I/we identify 15-20 individuals who, in effect would represent a microcosm

    of the problem or conflict and when brought together, would be the mostcapable, among all possible participants, of:

    Participating as a private individuals, while at the same time reflectingauthoritatively and effectively the perspectives of a broader group ororganization?

    Authoritatively and effectively communicating to a leader(s),organizations(s), or broader group the experiences, insights, ideas andproposals generated through Sustained Dialogue?


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    Creating and sustaining two-way communications on an on-going basisbetween her/his constituency and the dialogue?

    How credible and broad is the reach of the communications channels (publicand private) to which this group as a whole has access? Together, do they

    reach all or most of those affected?

    Exercise: Identifying Who Needs to be In the Room(45 minutes)Purpose: This exercise will provide you the opportunity to work through the abovequestions, and others you may develop, with respect to a conflict/social challenge that

    you are already familiar with. To begin, make sure to convey its essentials to the otherpersons in your exercise group.The objective is to encourage you to think critically about how the composition of aSustained Dialogue group shapes its potential to have a meaningful and lasting impacton the issues that brought them together.1. You will do this exercise in groups of two or three persons.2. Invite as a partner at least one person who is unlikely to share your familiarity withthe situation you are addressing.

    3. If there are three people, your roles are respectively (1) convener, (2) SustainedDialogue Moderator, and (3) recorder. If two, use just the first two roles.4. The convener begins by briefly describing the conflict/social challenge he or she hasin mind as the subject of the intended Sustained Dialogue.5. The Sustained Dialogue Moderator will ask the convener the questions posed in thelast section, plus others that you feel relevant.6. The Convener will provide as specific answers as possible, citing names or roles.

    7. The recorder will make a brief record of (1) the invitees, (2) key words describing whyeach is on the list, and (3) any new ideas raised regarding selecting participants.8. Each person will have about 10 minutes in each role, then switch roles.9. Share with the entire group any insights you gained from this exercise.


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    What are the Conditions for Dialogue? The Compact or CovenantIt is important to explain to participants that the dialogue will take place in a spaceowned by all and safe for all. You are asking them to take some risks. Often, meetingin a familiar but neutral site in which all participants will feel comfortable will helpparticipants feel safe.

    What will be discussed? A detailed agenda can grow only out of the dialogue itself, butsome general statement of purpose needs to be understood. At this stage, the simplestpossible statement that reassures participants that their needs will be heard is mostlikely to bring participants into dialogue.To give the dialogue purpose and direction, the primary condition the parties mustagree upon is that the purposewhatever the specific subject being discussedis toprobe for underlying elements of tense or conflictual relationships between them thatmust be changed to improve conditions or to resolve conflict.Participants should be aware that they are being invited to a series of meetings that maycontinue over a considerable periodnot just to a single meeting.Everything possible should be said to get across the point that the quality of behaviorand discussion in this space is expected to be quite different from the confrontationalcharacteristic of other interactions in a conflictual situation. Certain ground rulesshould be agreed upon in advance.Participants need to ponder the special character of the experience they are about tobegin to judge whether they want to get involved. They should know what will beexpected of them and what they may expect from others. Talking about these groundrules will also permit organizers to assess the capacity of potential participants to learn

    to work with others in the ways that will be required. Talking in this way can alsoprovide organizers with a vehicle for explaining that the group will deal with bothproblems and the dynamics of the relationships behind the problems and gaining somesense of potential participants capacity to respond to that dual agenda.To highlight the importance of these ground rules, you may want to prepare themadapting them to your situationon a separate paper to discuss them individually andwith the group when it first convenes. That paper could be titled Covenant or


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    Compact. Depending upon what is possible, participants would be asked to committhemselves personally to something like the statement below.


    The purpose of this dialogue is to work on changing the relationships among thegroups with which participants identify.

    There will always be two items on the agenda: the particular problems

    participants need to talk about and the underlying feelings and relationships thatcause these problems. Because of the importance of this work, participants commit themselves to meet

    regularly over a period of months at least four to five hours in a meeting,although international meetings may last two to three days. The duration of theseries will be open-ended. Participants will wait until they are well into thedialogue to agree on when to finish the series of meetings.

    Participants represent only themselves. They reflect views in their communities,but, in these dialogue sessions, they do not formally represent organizations orgroups.

    Participants will observe time limits on their statements to allow genuine

    dialogue. Participants will speak from their hearts as well as from their minds.

    Participants will interact civilly, listen actively to each other with attention andrespect, not interrupt and allow each to present her or his views fully.

    Because participants will need to speak about the feelings and relationshipsbehind the specific problems that bother them, feelings will be expressed andheard with mutual respect. Participants will try to learn from these expressions.

    Participants will try to respond directly and as fully as possible to points madeand questions asked. Each will make a real effort to put herself or himself inothers shoes and speak with sensitivity for others views and feelings.

    To facilitate serious work, participants will listen carefully to the issues andquestions posed by the moderator and try to stick to them.

    Nobody in the dialogue will be quoted outside the meeting room.

    No one will speak publicly about the substantive discussion in the dialogue unlessall agree.

    Product and Transition: Precipitating a Decision to Meet. When thegroundwork has been laid, a decision to meet must be precipitated. This may require a


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    traumatic event, a conciliatory gesture by one group toward another, or simply aninvitation to meet. Whatever the situation, someone needs to propose: Shall we meetand try to talk about our relationship?The product at the end of Stage One is an agreement among prospective participants to

    engage in a dialogue over some period for particular purposes. The understanding willset time, place, convening authority, financial responsibility if necessary and groundrules.It should be repeated here that the person or persons who have completed the tasks inthis stage to make a meeting happen may or may not moderate the meetings. Quiteoften, different experiences and abilities make different individuals appropriate to thetwo jobs, as we have discussed. If the task of moderating falls to someone else, thatperson should be briefed on the full experience in Stage One and, at a minimum, shouldbe given a copy of this manual, or better yet, be someone already trained andexperienced in moderating Sustained Dialogue.

    Separate Meetings with Each Team? It is often desirable for the moderator to gettogether separately before the first meeting with the individual groups or subgroups inthe dialogue. Such a meeting can serve several purposes:

    It can help participants begin to develop a relationship of mutual trust andrespect.

    It can provide the moderator direct initial insight into what is on each groupsand individuals minds.

    It can provide a preliminary sense of who are leaders, idea producers, negativefactors and reconcilers in each group.

    It can help moderator and participants begin to identify the most divisive issues,as well as glimmers of common ground. It can provide a preview of potential sources of resistance to developing working

    relationships as the dialogue progresses. It can reinforce the ground rules and forge parts of an alliance to make them


    Is it Appropriate to Take Careful Notes during the Dialogue? As you beginthe actual dialogue, you will find it immediately helpful if you can take good notesyourself, or arrange for a careful record of the dialogue to be kept. As soon as a meetingends, you will also find it helpful to write an analysis for yourself of how far the group

    has progressed, what the obstacles are and what might be a useful takeoff point for thenext session. The purpose of these notes is to give you an opportunity to review mainthoughts and feelings so you can think in retrospect about the flow of the interaction.The purpose is not just to record who said what. In fact, it is important notto have apaper with names of speakers that could embarrass anyone if it were accidentally toreach people outside the group.


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    who they are, especially to personal stories respecting threats to what they most highlyvalue, this encourages empathy, a discovery of the humanity of the other and areadiness to understand experiences and perspectives that previously formed the basisfor prejudices, misperceptions, and rejection. Similar change processes occur asparticipants grapple with differences in interests, power, perceptions and

    misperceptions. These conversations and stories often combine to reveal distinctive andpersistent patterns of interaction and uses of power that in the past have reinforcedseparation and conflict.

    Moderators must recognize that the depth of patterns of belief and behavior thatseparate have been constructed over time as a mechanism for survival or forperpetuation of a status quo. Changes will therefore be resisted. Nevertheless, they areessential to effective cooperation or collaboration. This explains why positive and lastingchange in relationships comes neither easily nor quickly. Rather, we find thatrelationships change in recognizable stages, over time, and thus the dialogue needs to be"sustained" to enable these essential relationship-changing processes opportunity todevelop and take concrete form.

    Why is this last point important? We've all experienced too many instances whenpeople from different backgrounds and cultures may seem able relatively quickly toreach a consensus on some common action, vision or goal only to see high hopes dashedas unaddressed differences in expectations, perceptions, identity, interests, and powerrise to the surface and make impossible the degree and quality of sustained creativecollaboration necessary to their realization.Sustained Dialogue not only recognizes the need to get at the roots of such differences; itis a well-developed and well-tested approach to doing so. The beginnings oftransformation in relationships result in two achievements that demonstrate Stage Two

    is meeting its objectives: (1) participants overcome their resistance to recognizing thatopponents may be making legitimate points and have legitimate concerns, i.e., that theythemselves or their positions, are not necessarily 100% right, and (2) participantstogether may name a part of the problem that we need to work on together.

    Stage Two Moderator Questions

    What concerns you most about the questions under discussion today?What are the raw nerves in the relationship? What has rubbed them raw? What have we

    each done that has damaged the relationship?What actions on each side have been threats or affronts to the identity on the other?What actions have threatened what each side cares aboutits interests, its power?

    In sum, how would you describe the main elements and the dynamics of the relationshiptoday? Where are the openings for constructive development? What kinds of actions


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    should be avoided?

    As this process leads to changes in relationships within the dialogue group, often a quitenoticeable change in the tone of dialogue seems to emerge, sometimes rather suddenly.Opportunities open up for mutual creative exchange, discovery and collaboration not

    previously imaginable. In short, participants are now prepared to come to the table witha thinking that differs in profound ways from that which gave rise to the problem in thefirst place. This is the concrete evidence of the change in relationships that SustainedDialogue makes possible.

    Visible Signs of Relationship Transformation:There are five visi