Dialogue Enhancers and Stoppers

What promotes deeper dialogue or stops a conversation in its tracks? Appalachian State University students, faculty and staff engaged in the Sustained Dialogue initiative on campus have been trained in how to facilitate effective communication. Listed below are some dialogue enhancers and stoppers that can be useful in a variety of settings.

  • Dialogue enhancers

    • Encourage: “Tell us some more…” / “You were saying…” / “Tell us what happened.”
    • Clarify: “I’m not sure I understand. Did you say…?”
    • Affirm: “I want to thank you both for coming.” / “Thank you for sharing that personal story.”
    • Checks/Summarize: “Please let me know if I understand you correctly. So far you’ve said____. Is that right?”
    • Perception Check: “So you feel you did everything you could to be friendly. Is that right?”
    • Validate: “Thank you for sharing that perspective. Do others want to share theirs?”
    • Identify Values: “You see yourself as a considerate neighbor and it is important to you that everyone looks out for each other. Is that right?”
    • Paraphrase: (Statement by Ms. Y: “First it was letters and phone calls, now he’s pounding on the walls constantly.”) “Things have been getting worse between you and Mr. X.”
  • Dialogue Stoppers

    • Evaluate: “It appears as if you really weren’t using your head.”
    • Conclude: “I think you just didn’t get the attention you wanted from your professor.”
    • Instruct or Advise: “You know it’s illegal to...” / “What you should do is talk to your mother about it.”
    • Analyze: “It’s clear that you haven’t been able to admit to yourself…”
    • Lecture: “Aren’t you trying to say that you really didn’t care?”
    • Provoke Rebuttal: “Mr. X just told us you deliberately play your music to annoy him. What do you have to say for that?”
    • Yes or No Questions: “Are you unhappy with this situation?”
    • Interrogate: “What were you doing there? Who else was there? And about how long did you stay?”
    • Ask Why: “Why were you late?” / “Why don’t you want to participate in the dialogue?”

Source: Sustained Dialogue program

Appalachian welcomes Sustained Dialogue as catalyst for change on campus

A transformative dialogue process has helped solve international conflicts. Now, college campuses around the world – including Appalachian – are using it as well, to facilitate communication about complex social issues.