What is Real Dialogue?

Real Dialogue has grown from Dialogue Therapy developed by Polly and her late husband, Ed Epstein, in 1983. Real Dialogue is a finely honed structure for dialogue and inquiry that is used for resolving conflicts between equals in relationships. Real Dialogue clears a path in order to transform chronic, repetitive hostilities into open communication and mutual discovery. Real Dialogue is woven throughout the podcast ENEMIES: War to Wisdom with Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D. and Eleanor Johnson. Real Dialogue for Opposing Sides is an evolution of the podcast of live on-stage events between people who are poised to disagree, but instead are coming together to learn from each other.

While Real Dialogue evolved from Dialogue Therapy, it is moving from the therapeutic setting being applied in business, organizations, and cultural/social situations in which individuals or groups encounter conflict and hostilities. While Real Dialogue shares some features with other models of conscious communication, it is designed specifically to facilitate situations in which there is repetitive conflict as a result of emotionally triggering dynamics that fall outside our awareness.

The rules of Real Dialogue are:

1. Speak for Yourself: Take mindful responsibility for the subjective basis of your own impressions, memories, and staying away from stating “objective facts” and/or making “we” or “you” statements.

2. Paraphrase and Listen Mindfully: Be certain you can step into the other person’s shoes and see/hear/feel that person’s statement/message before replying to it.

3. Mutual Witnessing: Recognize and remain interested in what is emerging between you and the other because you know that you need both sides of an opposition in order to reach any lasting solution to problems.

These steps lead to Real Dialogue and the precious gift of being able to sit and talk with someone who is profoundly in disagreement with you.

To become a certified Real Dialogue Specialist or Dialogue Therapist please see our calendar of events for trainings in your area or contact us with questions.

“We find ourselves on different sides of a line nobody drew. While it may be one in the higher eye, down here where we live it is two.”
— Leonard Cohen