New forms of dialogue and listening are
developing to offer people opportunities to develop
their thinking on important issues, learn new perspectives
and participate more fully in the democratic process.
See the Social Intelligence Database
for numerous inspiring examples.
Transforming Violence is also developing training and formats
that will enable people to learn skills and create good
environments for transformative approaches to challenging
issues. For example:
Café The Respect Café provides
a chance for people to listen, learn and understand
one another across lines of difference. Using these
guidelines, The Respect Café can be created by
anyone, anywhere. The Café includes a brief introduction
to “Eloquent Listening”
followed by structured conversations with people from
a wide range of backgrounds. People describe the kind
of questions they would like to be asked about their
cultural backgrounds (as distinct from the stereotyping
questions they are often asked). Participants in the
Café then ask questions in order to learn new
perspectives and have greater understanding of people
from diverse backgrounds.
Examples of participants and their
An Iraqi man who feels sad that people
in the west mainly think about Saddam Hussein when
Iraq is mentioned. He wants to be asked about the
Iraqi people in all their diversity.
An Englishwoman of mixed race wants
to be asked about whether she would choose to be white
in order to avoid the painful realities of racism.
A Pakistani woman wants to talk about
how she deals with not feeling at home either in Britain
or in Pakistan.
An Irishman wants to be asked about
how he feels about being lumped into the general category
of “white people” in a way that ignores
Training in Eloquent Listening is conducted
on an ‘asset-based’ model. In Part One we
assume that everyone in the room already knows about
good listening from their own experience of having someone
listen very well to them. The training collects the
knowledge of all the participants and allows people
to value their collective wisdom. In Part Two, people
are asked to reflect on a question about their cultural
identity/heritage that will enable listeners to develop
more respect for their identity and a deeper understanding
of complexity of their experiences (see Respect
Here are the insights about eloquent listening
that have been generated by participants in previous
training's. We usually start with this list and ask
participants to speak for two minutes each about which
of these points has been most important to them. Then
people have an opportunity to add new points:
Assume the other person
has a good intention.
Really pay attention – I
want to know about that person. Be curious and
I don’t know what the other person is going
Be patient –
let people develop their ideas.
try and put myself in their place.
Enjoy what the
person says – appreciate diversity of perspectives.
a connection between myself and the other person.
for the speaker.
responses and ask good questions.
for my reactions and emotions.
and maintain focus on the other person.
Stay on the
topic – focus on what the person is saying.
with myself to break habits and patterns (interrupting,
reacting strongly based on my beliefs, etc).
to what the person is saying – prevent the
conversation from going off at a tangent.
interrupt – open my ears.
Be totally present.
person really has something important to say. People
who seem boring, wrong or ignorant can prove interesting
if I really focus attention on them.
that evoke the depth of the other person.
and common ground.
Look at people in a friendly way
Be accepting rather than judging
Have open and accepting body language
after 9/11 Transforming Violence and
The Coexistence Initiative co-sponsored a participatory
workshop that examined the development of community
dialogues and discussions since 9/11. The workshop
brought together facilitators, moderators, and conveners
who have organized, fostered, and promoted dialogues
in different communities over the past year. It
was held at the 3220 Gallery in San Francisco in December
This workshop built
upon on a similar meeting held in New York (April 2002)
and will be followed by a third workshop (in early 2003).
This workshop series is geared towards identifying changes
in methodology, highlighting gaps in the field, sharing
resources, and discussing obstacles, successes, and
lessons learned. The results of these workshops
will be disseminated widely to practitioners in the
field and others interested in the role of dialogue
in transforming violence and building coexistence.