Dialogue Across Differences: An Introduction to Reflective Structured Dialogue


25 years ago, Essential Partners created a unique approach to dialogue that promoted connection and curiosity between those who saw one another as the enemy. Our approach has transformed conflicts across the country and the world - but its principles are widely applicable for everyday conversation. An intentional communication process can help individuals, organizations and communities build trust, enhance resilience for addressing future challenging issues, and have constructive conversations with those they otherwise “wouldn’t be caught dead with.”

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn basic theory and practice of our relationship-centered approach to better communication and dialogue.
  • Achieve shared, clear, and mutually understood purpose in a conversation.
  • Design a framework for a constructive conversation that will encourage people to participate fully, listen actively, and enhance empathy.
  • Stimulate self-discovery and curiosity about the “other” through questions that promote connection, curiosity and caring.


As a result of this workshop, you will be equipped 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.
  • Employ effective and satisfying communication exercises in a broad range of personal and professional settings.

Who might participate:

  • Executives in the nonprofit, public, or private sectors interested in shifting the culture of communication in their workplace.
  • Managers seeking to lead more constructive conversations with a divided, frustrated, or distracted team.
  • Clergy looking to broach a challenging concept with their congregation or internal leadership.
  • Consultants in strategic communications, strategic planning, or organizational development exploring new ways to improve client relations.
  • Administrators seeking to encourage collaboration between departments.


The December 8, 2017 program will be facilitated by Rafael Zapata.


This workshop is approved for 6 clock hours for national certified counselors, Massachusetts Social Workers, Massachusetts licensed mental health counselors, MA licensed marriage and family therapists, and New Hampshire pastoral psychotherapists. Credits are accepted by the NH Board of Mental Health Practice for all licensed NH mental health professionals. For more information, please see our workshop policies. We are an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP™) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. The ACEP solely is responsible for all aspects of the program.

This program has been approved for 6 Social Work Continuing Education hours for relicensure, in accordance with 258 CMR. Collaborative of NASW and the Boston College and Simmons Schools of Social Work Authorization Number D 72401. 

For more information, please contact us at training@whatisessential.org or 617-923-1216 ext. 10.

Workshop policies.

Upcoming Workshops

December 8, 2017
Essential Partners, 186 Alewife Brook Pkwy, #212, Cambridge, MA 02138
Regular fee
Early Bird Special:
Register with a Friend:


Theory, Crafting Questions, Meeting Design, Small Group Exercises, Preparation and Purpose


I learned that it’s possible to speak my heart and mind...while keeping in mind the other person’s heart and mind.