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How can we use this website?

The website’s main purpose is to provide our guides easily to interested  parties. However, it is also a gate that hopes to draw on many of the resources available on the Internet connected to American values and building dialogue.


How can we use the Guides?

The guides may be used in many settings – as a leader’s guide or for individual study, in a classroom, a church group, or in study or listening circles.  You may use the online guides freely.  If you choose to purchase a guide you may print it out for your group for noncommercial uses only.  See our policies for complete information on how you can use these guides.

There are resources on our website with more information on these various kinds of dialogue.


What is Dialogue?

Dialogue is a form of discussion that promotes the sharing of different interests, concerns, perspectives, and issues and promotes mutual understanding and respect among the participants. Please see our dialogue page for  more information.


Why Dialogue?

Dialogue provides a way for citizens to engage. Engagement is  necessary for our democracy to survive. Our guides try not only to improve civic education and general knowledge of our government, but also can help you to facilitate dialogue.

A recent article through MSNBC.com: D’Oh! More know Simpsons than Constitution: Study: America more famililar with cartoon family than First Amendment  "22% of Americans could name all five Simpson family  members, compared with just one in 1000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms." (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11611015/)


What are good rules for engaging in dialogue?

  1. Think before you speak.
  2. Ask rather than assume.
  3. Pay attention to the person who is speaking.
  4. Listen to understand.
  5. Don't interrupt.
  6. Don't use personal attacks and insults, shout, or scream.
  7. Speak from experience.
  8. Stick to the subject.
  9. Be open, honest, and considerate of others' feelings.
  10. Don’t take disagreements personally.

I feel overwhelmed, how can I get help starting a dialogue?

Start with self-dialogue, dialogue with family or with close friends, and  expand from there. These people offer a more a very comfortable environment that should help if you feel overwhelmed. Focus on the rules for dialogue in the previous FAQ. However, further Facilitation, training, and consulting services are available through The Communications Center.

The Communications Center helps businesses, government entities, nonprofits and other organizations improve communication and thinking skills and, by doing so, to save time, money, and produce better results.


We've had a dialogue, how do we make a plan of action?

We are glad that our guides have generated meaningful dialogue and ideas. Implementing a good idea requires planning. This planning need not be complex, but you need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • What exactly do we want to do?
  • Why do we want to do this?
  • How will we know if we are successful or making progress?
  • What people, technical, financial, or other resources do we need?
  • How will we communicate, keep files, maintain data, etc.?
  • What specific steps or tasks are involved?
  • Who will do what by when?