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Communicating in Conflict: Resources

Encounter’s Framework

Encounter’s approach to commu­ni­cating in conflict aims to create a frame­work in which deeply contentious and charged topics can be explored respect­fully by people of diverse ideo­log­ical view­points. This approach helps us to frame ques­tions in ways that speakers are able to hear and answer to the best of their ability, and allows us to reframe comments and state­ments in order to access our genuine questions.

This approach is designed to help us:

  • Hear and learn things we 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 coun­ter­in­tu­itive 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 approach enables us to ask the most chal­lenging ques­tions in ways that are respectful, genuine, and open.

Download the guidelines

Encounter’s approach to commu­ni­cating in conflict is inspired by the 2004 Public Conversations Project, from their work with pro-choice and pro-life leaders.

Communication Guidelines by Encounter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivs 3.0 Unported License.

Commu­ni­cating in Conflict and Our Values

Encounter’s approach to commu­ni­cating in conflict enables us to speak with כבוד / kavod (honor) and אמת / emet (truth­ful­ness) in all our conver­sa­tions during Encounter programs. It serves as a guiding frame­work for conver­sa­tions with other partic­i­pants as well as with Palestinians.

We encourage partic­i­pants to:

  1. Speak for your­self, not as a repre­sen­ta­tive of a group. Do not ask others to repre­sent, defend or explain an entire group. Make “I” state­ments rather than “we” statements.
  2. Avoid making broad gener­al­iza­tions and grand pronounce­ments. Instead, connect what you know and believe to your expe­ri­ences and sources of information.
  3. Express your different view­points in a thoughtful manner and without an insulting spirit. Keep in mind your goals of learning and reflec­tion. When you disagree with others, respect­fully express your opin­ions, but resist the urge to persuade them to “your side.”
  4. Listen with resilience, “hanging in” when you hear some­thing that is hard to hear. Take personal time if you find that you are no longer able to listen with a clear mind and an open heart.
  5. Share airtime and refrain from inter­rupting others, except to indi­cate that you cannot hear a speaker. Participate within the time frames suggested by the facilitators.
  6. “Pass” or “pass for now” if you are not ready or willing to respond to a ques­tion, no expla­na­tion required.
  7. Keep all small-group conver­sa­tions and listening pairs confi­den­tial. Outside those, if asked to keep some­thing confi­den­tial, honor the request. In conver­sa­tions outside of the group, do not attribute state­ments to indi­vid­uals by name or iden­ti­fying infor­ma­tion without permission.
  8. During ques­tion and answer time periods, avoid making lengthy state­ments. Do not argue with speakers or other partic­i­pants. Instead, ask ques­tions that express your genuine curiosity.
I am so impressed with the staff and the culture of this organization. Debbie Cosgrove Chair, Jewish Women’s Foundation NY
Encounter's value is being one of a kind in creating a thoughtful, safe space [and a] responsible and diverse cohort of inspiring colleagues who can support each other in engaging the conflict in our communities. It offers Jewish leaders access to the voices we want to be talking to and with and about from the other side of the messiest, most personal global conflict we are in some way all a part of. It softens our ears and hearts even while dogmatically resisting specific political solutions or pat answers. Rabbi Steven Exler Senior Rabbi, Hebrew Institute of Riverdale
Encounter gave me access to neighborhoods and people which were otherwise off limits. I was able to see and hear things firsthand that I would not have experienced otherwise. Miriam Heller Stern Director, School of Education, Jewish Institute of Religion, Hebrew Union College
It is incumbent upon us, as lovers of Israel, Jews and Judaism, to know all aspects of the issues. We are people of the book, of seeking truth and knowledge and peace. Debbie Cosgrove Chair, Jewish Women’s Foundation NY
It's essential for Jewish leaders. Rabbi Sharon Brous Senior/Founding Rabbi, IKAR

Additional Resources

Photo by Shulamit Seidler-Feller

Constructive Conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Guide for Convening and Facilitating Dialogue in Jewish Communities in the U.S.

The Jewish Dialogue Group has collab­o­rated with Public Conversations Project to create an excel­lent facil­i­ta­tion guide­book. The full guide­book can be down­loaded free of charge and is useful for anyone planning facilitated group conversations in their community.

Download Pdf
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Resetting the Table

Resetting the Table is dedicated to building meaningful dialogue and deliberation across political and communal divides. Drawing from facilitation and mediation expertise, Resetting the Table’s supports participants to move through charged conversations with trained facilitators and carefully structured process, designed to support diverse stakeholders to connect, learn, grapple, and make decisions together with honesty, mutual recognition and respect. Resetting the Table was founded and is directed by Encounter’s co-founder Rabbi Melissa Weintraub.

Visit Website
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What We're Reading, Watching & Listening To

Access Encounter’s library of articles, videos, podcasts and other media that help us deepen our understanding of the conflict from a range of perspectives; these include pieces by Encounter’s staff and past participants.

Access Resources