Communication Guidelines

The Communication Guidelines serve as the blue­print for our values at Encounter. These Guidelines are what make our trips unique, allowing for resilient listening and honest exchange on Encounter trips. We encourage you to read our guide­lines to learn more about Encounter’s inno­v­a­tive method­ology. We hope it will serve as a resource for our alumni and the broader community.

Download the Communication Guidelines

About Encounter’s Communication Guidelines*

Encounter’s Communication Guidelines help to create a frame­work in which deeply contentious and charged topics can be explored respect­fully by people of diverse ideo­log­ical view­points. These guide­lines enable ques­tions to be framed in ways that speakers are able to hear, without feeling attacked, and reframing comments and state­ments into genuine ques­tions. This educa­tional resource is inspired by a model devel­oped by the Public Conversations Project from their work with pro-choice and pro-life leaders.

These guide­lines enable partic­i­pants to:

  • hear and learn things they might other­wise miss, and
  • ask chal­lenging ques­tions in ways that can be heard by the person being addressed.

We have found that using this frame­work, while it may feel counter-intuitive at first, can actu­ally liberate us. First, we are forced to clarify for ourselves and for others the burning ques­tion at the heart of our discom­fort or curiosity; second, we are able to commu­ni­cate more openly because we are no longer afraid of offending. Encounter’s Communication Guidelines enable us to ask the most chal­lenging ques­tions in ways that are respectful, genuine, and open.

Encounter suggests that listening, specif­i­cally in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is a radical act. Listening does not mean that we endorse a view­point, or an inter­pre­ta­tion of facts, nor vali­date the facts a person chooses to present or omit. ‘Resilient listening’ allows a person and/or a commu­nity to live with tension, to hold multiple perspec­tives at the same time, and to continue to be open to learning what is new rather than guarding against it and shut­ting down. Only when we can learn from those with whom we disagree can we be more effec­tive and solution-oriented advo­cates and change-agents.

*Encounter welcomes you to down­load and use our Communication Guidelines.
Please attribute Encounter when doing so. Thank you.

Communication Guidelines

The purpose of these guide­lines is to enable us to speak with כבוד‬ / kavod (honor) and אמת / emet (truth­ful­ness) in all our conver­sa­tions during Encounter programs. These Communication Guidelines apply both to conver­sa­tions with other partic­i­pants as well as with Palestinians.

  1. I will speak for myself, not as a repre­sen­ta­tive of a group. I will not ask others to repre­sent, defend or explain an entire group. I will make ‘I’ state­ments rather than ‘we’ or ‘you’ statements.
  2. I will avoid making broad gener­al­iza­tions and grand pronounce­ments. Instead, I will connect what I know and believe to my expe­ri­ences and partic­ular sources of information.
  3. I will express my different view­points in a thoughtful manner and without an insulting spirit. I will keep in mind my goals of learning and reflec­tion. I may respect­fully disagree with others, but I will resist the urge to persuade them to “my side.”
  4. I will listen with resilience, “hanging in” when I hear some­thing that is hard to hear. I will take personal time if I find that I am no longer able to listen with a clear mind and an open heart.
  5. I will share airtime and refrain from inter­rupting others, except to indi­cate that I cannot hear a speaker. I will partic­i­pate within the time frames suggested by the facilitators.
  6. I will “pass” or “pass for now” if I am not ready or willing to respond to a ques­tion ‒ no expla­na­tion required.
  7. All small-group conver­sa­tions and listening pairs are confi­den­tial. Outside those, if asked to keep some­thing confi­den­tial, I will honor the request. In conver­sa­tions outside of the group I will not attribute partic­ular state­ments to partic­ular indi­vid­uals by name or iden­ti­fying infor­ma­tion without permission.
  8. During ques­tion and answer time periods, I will avoid making lengthy state­ments. I will not argue with speakers or other partic­i­pants. Instead, I will ask ques­tions that repre­sent my genuine curiosity.

When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand…
Listening, not talking is the gifted and great role… So try listening.
Listen to your wife, your husband, your father, your mother, your chil­dren, your friends, to those who love you and those who don’t, to those who bore you, to your enemies. It will work a small miracle. And perhaps a great one.

— Brenda Ueland, from The Art of Listening

Encounter’s Communication Guidelines are inspired by the 2004 Public Conversations Project, Watertown, MA.

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Communication Guidelines by Encounter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Our Mission

Encounter is an edu­ca­tional orga­ni­za­tion dedi­cated to strength­ening the capacity of the Jewish people to be construc­tive agents of change in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Moti­vated by the relent­less Jew­ish pur­suit of hokhma (wis­dom) and binah (under­stand­ing), Encounter cul­ti­vates informed Jew­ish lead­er­ship on the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict by bring­ing…

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