Our Method

We all know what it feels like to have a constructive, thoughtful and respectful conversation. What is less widely known is that cultures of communication can be taught, scaled, and replicated.

Essential Partners' method, called Reflective Structured Dialogue, is designed to help people have the conversation they want to have about some of the most difficult topics. It draws on strategies developed by family therapists to promote effective communication in the midst of painful differences. Our practitioners also incorporate insights and tools from mediation, interpersonal communications, appreciative inquiry, organization development, and psychology and neurobiology. This approach enables participants to share experiences and explore questions that both clarify their own perspectives and help them become more comfortable around, and curious about, those with whom they are in conflict.

Our facilitators engage in a thoughtful period of intense preparation and careful collaboration with participants to determine the best way to support a genuinely productive conversation.

Our method is a relationship-centered approach that includes:

  • Preparing people for new conversations

  • Reflecting on one’s own and others’ perspectives

  • Using shared agreements that guide the conversation

  • Encouraging curiosity and honest questions

  • Structured conversation that prevents old, unproductive patterns and enhances listening and speaking respectfully

This approach helps participants engage in constructive, often groundbreaking conversations that can restore trust and lay the foundation for collaborative action.