Dialogue Workshop Facilitation Instructions

Circling the Wagons Dialogue Workshops are intended to be safe spaces where LGBTQ/SSA Mormons of diverse opinions can authentically express their personal feelings without fear of rejection, retaliation or exclusion. In order to achieve safe environments, workshop facilitators and attendees are asked to follow the Circles of Empathy Guidelines. These guidelines will be printed on the programs for all participants to refer to during the workshops. When possible, they will be displayed in Dialogue Workshop classrooms.

Circles of Empathy Guidelines:

  • No one is required to share and no one should be called on to share without having first indicated the desire to share.
  • Share only with “I” statements and only from your own experience.
  • Avoid generalizing statements like “we all know…” or “everyone tends to…”
  • Empathize with one another by intentionally being curious and asking open and honest follow-up questions to better understand. (Only ask follow-up questions of someone who has already shared.)
  • Do not try to fix, save, persuade, debate, teach, counsel, challenge or change others.

How to prepare a Dialogue Workshop:

  1. Choose a workshop theme/topic that you think will be relevant to your audience. Your workshop theme/topic may be related to the overall conference theme, but it is not required that it be.
  2. Visit the Circles of Empathy website and browse through the seven fundamental questions. Write down any questions you think might be relevant to your theme or topic that you might choose to ask in your Dialogue Workshop. Feel free to adjust the questions to make them more specific to your theme or topic. Also feel free to add your own questions. You will be leading the Dialogue Workshop and therefore know the best direction for your workshop to take.
  3. Look through your questions to ensure that they are truly open and will allow for diverse answers. Avoid loaded or leading questions such as “When did you realize it was right to identify as same-sex attracted instead of gay?” or “When did you realize it was right to identify as gay instead of same-sex attracted?”
  4. Think about what information audience members might need about the theme or topic to prepare them to answer the questions you have chosen. Decide what that information is and who on your Dialogue Workshop team should present that information.
  5. Think through the sequence of your questions. Is there a particular order in which it would be best to ask them? Think through the direction you may be trying to take your audience throughout the process of the workshop. Will asking the questions in a certain order help guide the conversation in that direction?
  6. Think through how you would like to conclude your workshop. Is there a final message you would like to leave attendees with? Who will share that message? How will the questions you ask lead to the message?
  7. Think about how you would like to organize the chairs in your classroom. We recommend that, when possible, chairs be arranged in circles or concentric circles so that attendees can see each others’ faces.
  8. Choose one person to be the Primary Facilitator. Other team members will be on the Dialogue Workshop Facilitation Team.

The Role of the Dialogue Workshop Primary Facilitator:

  • The role of the Primary Facilitator is not to present new information, but to facilitate safe, authentic discussion.
  • The Primary Facilitator should strive not to express his or her own viewpoint, but to facilitate the authentic speech of the audience and members of the Facilitation Team. The Primary Facilitator plays the role of a quiet neutral, so to speak.
  • The Primary Facilitator should not present new information. When new information is to be presented, it should be presented by other members of the Facilitation Team.
  • The Primary Facilitator guides the direction of the Dialogue Workshop by:
    1. 1) Asking Facilitation Team Members to present relevant information at the appropriate time
    2. 2) Asking attendees open-ended questions.
  • The Primary Facilitator seeks to ensure that attendees do a majority of the talking and that attendees’ words are only supplemented by the information presented by the Facilitation Team.
  • The Primary Facilitator takes care to ensure that any information is presented for the express purpose of forwarding the discussion, not for forwarding the agenda of any one member of the Facilitation Team or for the purpose of trying to fix, save, persuade, debate, teach, counsel, challenge or change attendees.
  • The Primary Facilitator takes care to ensure that information presented by the Facilitation Team takes into consideration the many viewpoints of diverse attendees. The Primary Facilitator should seek to ensure that all attendees feel safe and as if it is appropriate to vocalize their own authentic perspectives.
  • The Primary Facilitator should strive to set the example by aligning his or her speech with the Circles of Empathy Guidelines.
  • The Primary Facilitator should strive to minimize the amount of time he or she spends speaking, allowing attendees time to talk.

The Role of The Dialogue Workshop Facilitation Team:

  • The Facilitation Team presents information for the purpose of forwarding attendees’ discussions.
  • Members of the Facilitation Team should strive to minimize the amount of time they speak, remembering that the objective of the Dialogue Workshop is to create a safe space for attendees to speak.
  • Members of the Facilitation Team should feel free to speak their own truths authentically.
  • Members of the Facilitation Team should strive to align their speech with the Circles of Empathy Guidelines.
  • Members of the Facilitation Team should seek to remember that some attendees and some Facilitation Team members disagree with what they have to say. It is the responsibility Facilitation Team members to choose words that will be as safe as possible for those disagree with them.
  • The Facilitation Team is responsible to ensure that its members represent a diverse set of perspectives, life decisions and beliefs.
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