The Power of Dialogue: Constructive Conversations on Divisive Issues

The Power of Dialogue is our flagship workshop. This is a comprehensive “deep dive” into our time-tested method for transforming conflicted conversations about divisive issues.

Even within the most contentious issues or fraught situations, the right tools enable a community to foster understanding, restore relationships, and move forward.

The Power of Dialogue is a highly interactive workshop that offers a widely applicable skill set for those with a range of experience levels. As a facilitator, you will learn how to create conversations that foster mutual understanding between groups and individuals divided by deep differences.

Hundreds of facilitators, peacebuilders, mediators, and other community leaders from the US and 18 other countries have taken this workshop since its inception in 1996 and are implementing its lessons worldwide.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the signs of polarization and dynamics of conflict, including the effects of strong emotion on how we perceive and communicate with others.
  • Practice ways of speaking, listening, and asking questions that foster sincere curiosity about an opponent and open up conversations.
  • Understand the gap between a speaker’s intention and impact in communicating with others.
  • Experience all elements of a structured dialogue about a divisive issue: preparing participants, planning, facilitating, and participating.


As a result of this taking this workshop, you will be equipped to:

  • Facilitate a challenging conversation with openness and curiosity.
  • Create a healthy space for multiple complex or conflicting views in a community, group or organization.
  • Transform conversations that have been frozen in silence or inflamed by shouting, connecting a fractured group and allowing people to encounter one another in new ways.
  • Repair damaged relationships and break the pattern of “us” vs. “them” dynamics.
  • Plan and lead structured dialogue through careful planning and intentional meeting design.
  • Discuss “taboo” issues, particularly around identity, with openness and curiosity.

Who might participate:

  • Educators or advocates leading dialogues about divisive topics such as race, religion, or socioeconomic class
  • Clergy and lay leaders who want to help their congregations address differences in constructive ways
  • Therapists or social workers facilitating difficult conversations around issues of high emotion with patients
  • Professors incorporating dialogue or conflict resolution techniques to their classrooms
  • Alternative dispute resolution professionals looking to facilitate more constructive communication between people unable to hear each other.

Accreditation and Continuing Education:

This workshop is approved for 18 clock hours for MA social workers, MA licensed marriage and family therapists, and New Hampshire pastoral psychotherapists. Credits are accepted by the NH Board of Mental Health Practice for all licensed NH mental health professionals.

This program has been approved for 18 Social Work Continuing Education hours for relicensure, in accordance with 258 CMR. Collaborative of NASW and the Boston College and Simmons Schools of Social Work Authorization Number D72317-2.

NOTE: Fee includes the three-day workshop and follow up support as attendees will apply the skills they learn in their context or community.

For related and preparation reading material, click here.

For more information, please contact us at or 617-923-1216 ext. 10.

Workshop policies.

There are no upcoming events for this workshop right now. Please check back later or contact us.

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Neuropsychology Research, Theory, Small Group Discussions, Role Play, Simulated Dialogue, Crafting Questions


I appreciated the emphasis on crafting the questions. Not just in terms of language, but thinking very carefully about what feelings or experiences you want to illicit

Shari Edelstein, Workshop Alumni

The workshop structure, especially the simulation, really invited me to a much deeper place of understanding.

I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment when the workshop ended; that I'd done something important for my community and something important for me.

The fact that people can disagree and still find a way to connect, hear the other and feel heard is something that I wish could be utilized in so many ways, outside the ‘dialogue’ context.

Workshop Alumni