Structuring Engagement: Ways of Working Toward Resolution

Over the last two weeks we have discussed Yankelovich’s “Learning Curve” and Harwood’s “5 Stages of Community Life” as analytic tools that can help you plan and structure effective dialogues within your community.  Today we discuss specific  “Ways of Working Toward Resolution”, which have been included in the image above.

For example, when people are engaging in wishful thinking or denying real facts, you are more likely to make progress by sharing information through open ended questions, inviting reactions, and listening than by arguing.  When people see a lack of practical choices, brainstorming and prioritizing can help them find a way forward.  Recognizing the contributions of others and sharing credit, whether or not recognition is fully deserved, helps people move beyond power based disputes or traditional turf battles into more productive dialogue.

While using this tool you can ask yourself for each issue:  where is our community in its understanding of this issue (the learning curve)? Where is our community in terms of our willingness or capability to more forward (5 stages)?  Where do we want to be and in what time frame (learning curve and 5 stages)?  What barriers are we likely to encounter as we try to move up the curve (learning curve)? What can we do to address each of these barriers (ways of working toward resolution)?  Which process options best incorporate what is needed (ways of working toward resolution)?

Both planners and community members can use this tool to analyze and discuss the interrelationship of barriers and goals, to identify ways of removing barriers and to plan productive dialogues.  Further, this tool can be used either at the outset, during, or after a dialogue process to evaluate what processes to use and how to use them.

We have been developing a workbook that would help you work through this analysis.  If you would like to review and comment on this workbook, please contact Dave at

One response to “Structuring Engagement: Ways of Working Toward Resolution

  1. Pingback: Hate, Terror, and The Power To Heal | The Blog for Building Dialogue

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.