Using Quaker Dialogue

You are facilitating a group of twelve stakeholders working to build an agreement about a long-term conservation plan. The group is made up of local elected officials, land owners, and members of local land trusts as well as professional conservationists. Your experience is that some people talk easily and often, while others rarely speak.

What participation tool can I use to get thoughtful participation from each member of the group? Named for the Quaker traditions of equality, listening and allowing time for silence, the discussion method called Quaker Dialogue promotes equal participation and careful listening. It allows quieter members of a group to get the floor and helps people move from forming rebuttals to listening carefully.

How Quaker Dialogue Works

Go around the room, asking each person to speak in turn.

No one interrupts the person speaking.

No one (including the facilitator) summarizes or makes comments on another’s contribution until everyone has had a chance to speak.

Silence between speakers is encouraged, so that the previous speaker’s comments can be absorbed.

Anyone is free to pass. The facilitator will come back to those who passed and offer another opportunity to speak.

After everyone has spoken, the facilitator may summarize the “sense of the group”, ask the group what they learned from listening to one another or open the floor for discussion.

The facilitator will intervene, if necessary, to maintain the above process.

facilitatoru Using Quaker Dialogue