Just what is facilitated dialogue?

Basically, it is an opportunity for people, governmental entities, or other groups to work out differences based on the following underlying principle: Parties to a conflict know better than anyone else (including a judge) just what it will take for the parties to satisfy their needs and move forward. The "facilitated" part means that a trained outside person with no stake in the conflict assists the parties to structure and carry out the conversations and negotiations.

The facilitator or mediator structures the conversations to include the following:

  • develop guidelines to ensure the conversations will be fair, and the forum for the discussions will be safe and conducive to open and honest dialogue,
  • focus on underlying interests and needs of the parties, not the solutions they may initially bring to the table,
  • work on a consensus basis - any person at the negotiating table is able to block agreement on any issue (so no legal rights are forfeited if the facilitated dialogue doesn't work), and
  • develop trust among the parties that builds confidence they can actually come to an agreement and implement the agreement without outside enforcement.

The Great Plains Consensus Council is increasingly encouraging governmental and other groups to use a consensus process:

  • to work on policy planning and development, and
  • to work on conflict issues early - before they become deeply entrenched.
Education and Training Community Mediation Center Great Plains Consensus Council Congregational Health