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Facilitating Tough Conversations

November 16, 2017 @ 8:30 am - November 17, 2017 @ 4:30 pm

Are you witnessing an increase in divisiveness in your community? Do you see the need for us to talk across our divides? Do you want to be able to help your community have the difficult conversations it needs to have to move forward together? Essential Partners is offering a two-day workshop to help you build skills to facilitate tough conversations, whether in your daily life or in formal dialogues. This workshop is intended to be an introductory workshop for those new to facilitation or to our model.

Community is an act of courage. We believe that behind every belief is a person with a story. 27 years ago, Essential Partners created a unique approach to dialogue that promotes connection and curiosity between those who see one another as enemies. Our approach, Reflective Structure Dialogue (RSD), has transformed conflicts across the country and the world, and is widely applicable to the vital conversations that communities need to have to do the work they need to do. An intentional communication process can help individuals, groups, and communities rebuild trust, enhance resilience, address challenging issues, and have constructive conversations with people from different perspectives or those they otherwise would avoid or fight with.


In this workshop you will learn skills to facilitate these conversations by:

  • Learning how to design and structure conversations for engagement that encourages curiosity, community and connection across differences
  • Achieving clarity of purpose and expectations
  • Utilizing agreements, structure, preparation and inquiry
  • Practicing competence and confidence in facilitating through challenging moments


As a result of this two-day workshop, you will be equipped to:

  • Create a context for people to communicate with self-confidence about difficult or divisive topics;
  • Break destructive communication habits like avoidance, silence, or reactive responses, enabling those in a conversation to feel truly listened to;
  • Design conversations, dialogues, or meetings with clear purpose, full participation, and a structure for moving forward;
  • Introduce a dialogue circle; and
  • Intervene to support a group through rough spots.

Who might participate

  • Community leaders, Nonprofit leaders, and clergy
  • Government officials seeking to encourage collaboration
  • School administrators, professors, and teachers
  • Directors of community engagement or diversity and inclusion


  • “Lots of useful ideas on handling tough moments in facilitation. Loved the stories of successes, in Liberia, Nigeria, Salt Lake City, and more.”
  • “I learned how a structured dialogue can minimize power imbalances and help in highly charged/emotional settings.”
  • “I found all of the facilitation skills to be awesome. One thing I was surprised by though was the level of planning and prep.”
  • “[This workshop] showed concrete steps for approaching the divide in our communities.”


November 16, 2017 @ 8:30 am
November 17, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
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Impact Hub Boston – 5th Floor
50 Milk Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02109 United States
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