The Power of Dialogue: Building Bridges though Healthy Family and Community Discussions

The Power of Dialogue: Building Bridges though Healthy Family and Community Discussions

Facilitator: Lisa Tensmeyer Hansen

Families and communities can harbor hostility and dysfunction through inadvertently fostering silence instead of engaging in dialogue. Conversations that are avoided are generally conversations that have the most potential to be emotionally reactive and dangerous. As a result, sometimes the most important issues — issues associated with intense emotions that have the greatest impact on individual lives and community health — are far less likely to be discussed than mundane topics of little relative significance. Ironically, avoiding the most difficult conversations in order to maintain safety can have long-term harmful effects on families and communities, and in an attempt to maintain safety, safety is often threatened.

This workshop will teach specific skills that can be used to help participants more effectively engage in productive dialogues about difficult topics for the purpose of helping families and communities break the habits of silence that may be harmful to them. Topics that will be addressed include the harm of silence, specific ways to articulate emotions and concerns, gaining an awareness of the possibility that some communications evoke a defensive or fight and flight reaction in oneself or others and how to respond in such instances, and more.

The following principles will be introduced by Lisa, then practiced by workshop participants:

  1. How to anticipate and prepare for a courageous conversation, getting ourselves in the frame of mind to approach or deflect, depending on what we are prepared to handle.
  2. Becoming aware of our own internal states as conversation starts and continues.
  3. Becoming an observer of what is happening in conversation as well as a participant.
  4. Deciding whether to share self or invite the speaker’s further exploration.
  5. Learning skills for sharing self (what’s happening to me right now in this conversation).



Previous Circling the Wagons Workshops also addressing conflict resolution:

Workshop for Families in Conflict

Facilitated by the Group of Eight Therapists: Lee Beckstead, Marybeth Raynes, David Matheson, Jim Struve, Justin McPheters, Jerry Buie, David Pruden and Shirley Cox

Back to the 2015 Conference Schedule