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Promoting Social Well-being through Diversity Dialogues. Tom A. Chávez, M.A. Department of Counseling Psychology University of Wisconsin – Madison UNM Department of Psychiatry Children’s Psychiatric Center Clinical Child Psychology Intern April 18 , 2012.

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promoting social well being through diversity dialogues

Promoting Social Well-being through Diversity Dialogues

Tom A. Chávez, M.A.

Department of Counseling Psychology

University of Wisconsin – Madison

UNM Department of Psychiatry

Children’s Psychiatric Center

Clinical Child Psychology Intern

April 18, 2012

  • Adapted and reprinted with permission from: Stephen Quintana, Ph.D.

Department of Counseling Psychology

University of Wisconsin – Madison

  • Development of DD program
  • Characteristics of DD
  • Debate vs. Dialogue
  • Structure of DD
  • Facilitator’s role/ Challenges
  • Experiencing Diversity Dialogue
  • An initiative from the Department of Counseling Psychology and Office of the Provost
successful diversity dialogues
Successful Diversity Dialogues:
  • Reach beyond usual boundaries of learning
  • Unite participants through a respectful, informed sharing
  • Aims for a change in heart, not just a change of mind
  • Move toward solutions
  • DD are 90 – minute discussions in small groups of 8 to 10 participants led by one or two facilitators
  • Participants are drawn from [courses across campus, co-workers, faculty, etc.]
  • The dialogues offer an open forum to complement already occurring programs or policies already in place
  • The focus is on participants’ experiences/ reactions related to diversity, challenges associated with diversity, and opportunities for future involvement in diversity
  • The goal is for the dialogues to be a different type of learning opportunity for participants to share personal stories and experiences, honestly express perspectives, clarify viewpoints, and possibly develop solutions to concerns
characteristics cont
Characteristics (cont.)
  • In small group dialogues, participants can safely question and reevaluate their assumptions
  • Through this process, people can learn through each others stories how to work together to improve the cultural climate of the campus
  • The dialogues are facilitated by participants who are there to promote an open and respectful atmosphere for exploring, expressing, and learning about diversity issues
  • The facilitators are not there to teach or preach participants
debate vs dialogue

Why Dialogue?

Debate vs. Dialogue
  • Oppositional – two sides oppose each other and attempt to prove each other wrong
  • Goal is to win
  • Listening is to find flaws in the opponent and to counter-argue
  • Defends assumptions as the truth
  • Causes critique of the other position
  • Collaboration – 2 or more sides work together toward common understanding
  • Goal is to find common ground
  • Listening is to understand another view
  • Reveal assumptions for re-evaluation
  • Causes introspection of one’s own position
debate vs dialogue1
Debate vs. Dialogue
  • Defending one’s own position as the best solution and excludes other solutions
  • Creates a close-minded attitude, a determination to be right
  • Prompts a search for glaring differences
  • Involves a countering of the other position without focusing on feeling or relationship and often belittles or deprecates the other person
  • Opens the possibility of reaching a better solution than any of the original solutions
  • Creates an open-minded attitude, an openness to being wrong, and an openness to change
  • Prompts a search for basic agreements
  • Involves a real concern for the other person and does not seek to alienate or offend
the agreements of dialogue
The Agreements of Dialogue
  • Safe space
  • Honest engagement
  • Risk taking and exploration
  • Open and nonjudgmental attitude
  • Opportunity for learning
  • Focus on personal experience
structure of the dialogues
Structure of the Dialogues
  • Give participants a brief description of dialogues and structure/ agreements
  • Ice breaker activities
    • Name game (approx. 5 min.)
    • 3 Dyadic Diversity Dialogue prompts (approx. 5 min./ prompt)
      • Discuss your earliest memory regarding diversity
      • Discuss a positive experience you’ve had with diversity
      • Discuss (or share as a group) an awkward experience with diversity
structure cont
Structure (cont.)
  • Additional activities
    • Place anonymous questions on index cards
    • Place self on continuum
  • Open discussion/ burning questions from participants
  • Facilitator asks open-ended questions or process comments (will discuss further in next slides)
  • Closing exercise (e.g. What was the most impactful story?, What did you learn about yourself?, etc.) (Last 10 min. of session)
role of the facilitator s
Role of the facilitator(s)
  • To be aware of the power of the facilitator role
  • Each member is looking for connection and acceptance from you
  • No preaching or educating (facilitator-participant)
  • Facilitator leads or sets the group norm for taking risks, sharing unvarnished self (e.g., “quirky” experiences)
  • Facilitator should be open to sharing personal experiences, sharing cultural story
role of the facilitator cont
Role of the facilitator (cont)
  • Approach facilitation with emphasis on openness, curiosity, and exploration
  • Draw out the personal context of the participants’ opinions
  • Focus on personal feelings/ reactions/ sources of anxiety vs. political beliefs
  • Facilitate conversations instead of being the one who does the talking
role of the facilitator cont1
Role of the facilitator (cont)
  • Stimulate meaningful and engaging discussions
  • Be prepared to give an introduction about one’s own interest in diversity
  • Strive for transparency in your agenda and orientation toward the issues and members
  • Enable the members to move beyond the social facade to authentic interaction
role of the facilitator cont2
Role of the facilitator (cont)
  • Look for opportunities to draw out, follow up on issues members disclose, ask follow-up questions, etc.
  • Show curiosity in members’ experiences and their views of the issues
  • Often it will be the participants first exposure to group discussion of diversity
  • Often solely focused on race/ ethnicity
  • Group dialogues may become heated
  • Group dialogue may be difficult to initiate
  • Role confusion
  • participants often want more by the end
participant quotes
Participant quotes


“My fear I was wondering would I be able to contribute.”

“ I was hoping that there would be more people of different background than me.”

“I think it’s [diversity] is important. Sometimes it is good to be forced into a situation like where you have to interact with people from diverse cultures. Otherwise you won’t understand diversity.”

participant quotes1
Participant quotes

Previous experiences

“With family…Um, I don’t think…I haven’t had a reason to talk about diversity.”

“my friends are pretty open to diversity.’

[in another group on diversity]we talked a lot about, like if there is a minority in the group how they shouldn’t have to speak for their group.”

participant quotes2
Participant quotes

DD Group activities and structure

“I didn’t think that we would be doing as much talking. I thought that maybe someone would just come and talk to us again about diversity which is what we’ve all heard.”

“…it’s interesting to hear, you know, as many people’s perspectives…I just thought it was just really a good experience.”

“There was diversity in the group.”

participant quotes3
Participant quotes

Group dynamics

“It definitely was not relaxed in the beginning”

“we all sat there and then somebody told a story and then we all just kind of went off”

“once you get going, you realize there isn’t enough time to talk about all you want to talk about”

participant quotes4
Participant quotes

Characteristics of members and facilitators

“I kinda like hearing other people’s opinions you know when they are different than I am”

“I didn’t want someone to go ‘off’ on me…I wasn’t in the mood for confrontation”

“We were all very cautious about what we were talking about.”

participant quotes5
Participant quotes

Barriers and facilitating factors

“…silence is not an encouraging environment to express yourself. Like maybe you are not on the same level when there is silence.”

“[the facilitators] were there for people…they got more on a personal level than they are superior or something”

“I wondered ‘Are they judging me? Are they thinking what I said was wrong? Are they not listening to me?”

“Everyone started to get a little more relaxed and everyone was really open about it and just listening”

participant quotes6
Participant quotes

Individual experience

“After awhile I felt comfortable mentioning. So I did.”

“I feel like they actually like wanted to hear that I was talking about because I had like a different opinion than most of them …coming from a different place Ii should say.”

“I think that once we felt assured we weren’t going to offend each other, we were more comfortable talking about it openly like and not focused on being politically correct.”

“it helped me be more aware of the differences in a very positive way and how everyone has great things to bring to the table”

more info
More info?
  • Adapted and reprinted with permission from Stephen M. Quintana, Ph.D.; Use of this information should secure permission from Dr. Quintana:
  • Further questions/ Info: or