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Skills for Civil Discourse. An FYE Conversation Facilitated by Pat Ashton Department of Sociology Peace and Conflict Studies. September 18, 2006. The Problem: Absence of Tolerance. The Problem: Absence of Tolerance. The Problem: Absence of Tolerance. The Solution: Civil Discourse.

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skills for civil discourse
Skills for Civil Discourse

An FYE Conversation

Facilitated by

Pat Ashton

Department of Sociology

Peace and Conflict Studies

September 18, 2006

the solution civil discourse
The Solution: Civil Discourse

Skills for Civil Discourse

  • Critical thinking
  • Communication/Dialogue
    • Active listening skills
      • Attending
      • Responding
    • Centered communication
      • “I” messages
the art of active listening paraphrasing
The art of active listening: Paraphrasing

How to paraphrase:

  • Focus on the speaker. (“You….”)
  • Restate and reflect. (facts and emotions)
  • Be brief (3 – 12 words)
listening exercise
Listening exercise

Identify a partner.

Decide who goes first.

Talk about something you enjoy doing.

Partner uses active listening and paraphrasing.

Switch roles.

centered communication
Centered communication

“I messages” are used to provide important information to another person about:

  • my emotions.
  • my needs.
  • the impact of their actions on me.
  • my views and preferences.
  • my intentions/purposes/goals.
centered communication1
Centered communication

Centered speaking is most effective when it:

  • is rooted in the here-and-now
  • avoids blaming or accusing the other.
  • talks about specific events and behaviors.
  • is honest.
  • commands, not demands, respect for my feelings.
  • takes responsibility for my own feelings.
  • recognizes that I can only change me, not you.
centered communication2
Centered communication

Techniques of centered communication:

  • Preference stating
    • “I would prefer….” “I’d rather….”
  • Purpose stating
    • “My purpose is to….” “What I’m trying to do is….”
  • Posture of puzzlement
    • “I’m puzzled by what you mean.”
    • “I’m confused about why you would say that.”


A dialogue exercise: a love story







Beliefs and norms: a love story



Who is the most despicable – i.e., the most morally reprehensible, and why?



the dialogue
The dialogue
  • Find someone who disagrees with you.
  • Discuss your disagreement using
    • Paraphrasing
    • “I” messages

How did it feel to do this?

Can you use these skills in other discussions and debates?