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Sender: Michael Briand
Subject: following up on suggestion of April 22nd
Date: Tue, May 13, 2014
Msg: 100975


I would like to follow up on my question of April 22nd: Would it prove useful to observe, and subsequently to reflect on, an attempt by a small number of selected discussants to initiate a constructive, productive dialogue concerning some issue that currently divides our society?

My personal interest lies chiefly in the opportunity to identify where political discourse "goes off the rails;" to understand why it does so; and to consider potential facilitative interventions that might prevent or mitigate this problem. Although my preference would be for an asynchronous "dialogue-in-print," I'm open to a real-time exchange the audio record (or transcript) of which we could discuss at our convenience.

Ideally, the dialogue I'm proposing would consist of two and possibly three stages:

1. A minimally facilitated* exchange on some topic or issue (the discussion need not be a "full-length" exploration, but might constitute only a portion of what normally would be a much longer conversation) between partisans willing to engage each other for the purpose of achieving greater clarity about each other's perspective, but not committed to finding common ground, seeking a transpartisan resolution, or anything along these lines.

2. After analysis and discussion within the listserv, a "re-started" exchange on the same topic or issue, probably with the same discussants, facilitated with a view to implementing measures recommended and agreed upon by listserv participants to achieve the most constructive, productive dialogue possible.

3. If warranted, a collective effort by listserv participants to construct a "model" dialogue illustrating where and how "sticking points" might be dealt with adequately to sustain the conversation and move it forward.

* Many of us are committed, to varying degrees, to existing processes, procedures, methods, etc. for establishing and sustaining dialogue. I want to recommend that we set these aside for purposes of the proposed exercise so that we can take a fresh look at difficult dialogue and understand better, through group discussion, the assumptions and principles that underlie and inform our various approaches to improving the ability of people to communicate and cooperate.

Thanks for your comments and suggestions.

Michael Briand


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