The Power of Dialogue: Constructive Conversations on Divisive Issues

Power of Dialogue is Public Conversations’ flagship workshop. This is a comprehensive “deep dive” into our time-tested method for transforming conflicted conversations about divisive issues.

Even within the most contentious issues or fraught situations, the right tools enable a community to foster understanding, restore relationships, and move forward. The Power of Dialogue is a highly interactive workshop that offers a widely applicable skill set for those with a range of experience levels. As a facilitator, you will learn how to create conversations that foster mutual understanding between groups and individuals divided by deep differences.

Hundreds of facilitators, peacebuilders, mediators, and other community leaders from the US and 18 other countries have taken this workshop since its inception in 1996 and are implementing its lessons worldwide.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the signs of polarization and dynamics of conflict, including the effects of strong emotion on how we perceive and communicate with others.
  • Practice ways of speaking, listening, and asking questions that foster sincere curiosity about an opponent and open up conversations.
  • Understand the gap between a speaker’s intention and impact in communicating with others.
  • Experience all elements of a structured dialogue about a divisive issue: preparing participants, planning, facilitating, and participating.


As a result of this taking this workshop, you will be equipped to:

  • Facilitate a challenging conversation with openness and curiosity.
  • Create a healthy space for multiple complex or conflicting views in a community, group or organization.
  • Transform conversations that have been frozen in silence or inflamed by shouting, connecting a fractured group and allowing people to encounter one another in new ways.
  • Repair damaged relationships and break the pattern of “us” vs. “them” dynamics.
  • Plan and lead structured dialogue through careful planning and intentional meeting design.
  • Discuss “taboo” issues, particularly around identity, with openness and curiosity.

Who might participate:

  • Educators or advocates leading dialogues about divisive topics such as race, religion, or socioeconomic class
  • Clergy and lay leaders who want to help their congregations address differences in constructive ways
  • Therapists or social workers facilitating difficult conversations around issues of high emotion with patients
  • Professors incorporating dialogue or conflict resolution techniques to their classrooms
  • Alternative dispute resolution professionals looking to facilitate more constructive communication between people unable to hear each other.


This workshop is approved for 18 clock hours for national certified counselors, 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.

This program is approved by the National Association of Social Workers (Approval #886415120-2246) for 6 continuing education contact hours.

This activity has been approved for 12 (HR (General)) recertification credit hours toward California, GPHR, HRBP, HRMP, PHR and SPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.  For more information about certification or recertification, please visit the HR Certification Institute website at The use of this seal is not an endorsement by the HR Certification Institute of the quality of the activity.  It means that this activity has met the HR Certification Institute’s criteria to be pre-approved for recertification credit.

For more information or assistance, please contact us at or 617-923-1216 ext.10.

Workshop policies.

Upcoming Workshops

October 22, 2015 to October 24, 2015
Boston, MA
April 14, 2016 to April 16, 2016
Boston, MA
December 1, 2016 to December 3, 2016
Boston, MA
Regular fee
Early Bird Special:
Register with a Friend:
NCDD & NAFCM Member Rate:


Neuropsychology Research, Theory, Small Group Discussions, Role Play, Simulated Dialogue, Crafting Questions


The workshop structure, especially the simulation, really invited me to a much deeper place of understanding.

I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment when the workshop ended; that I'd done something important for my community and something important for me.