Dialogue and Trust

In quick succession, after examining the nature and dynamics of conflict and the many facets of violence, and trying their hand at conflict mapping, Peace Fellows turned their minds to conflict transformation through dialogue.

Dialogue is used in times of conflict, in post-conflict periods and in peacetimesIts primary goal of mending, building and strengthening relationships means that it takes forms distinct from discussion, discourse and debate.



Finding Trust

Effective dialogue is founded on trust. Without trust, no one would take part. When society is polarised and when speaking out attracts doxing, trolling and lawsuits, trust seems dubious and even fanciful. Fellows were invited to look for trust in everyday life. They expected trust from family and close friends but also found that trust among strangers was not as uncommon as originally thought: they trusted fellow pedestrians not to trip them over deliberately; they trusted the bus driver to take them to their destination; they trusted shopkeepers not to short-change them; and they trusted their online gaming teammates to collaborate in destroying the nexus. These seemingly minor but frequent and numerous relationships of trust form a significant part of the social convoy that carries us through life. The prospect of dialogue in the community then seemed closer.



Designing Dialogue

Creating dialogue takes careful considerations — Who should participate? Why would they agree to participate? When and where and how often will dialogue take place? What will be the ideal format and pace? Are ground rules desirable and who decides what they are? How best to ensure that participants are adequately heard and their views captured and followed up? Fellows compared examples of public dialogue in Hong Kong and other parts of the world.

Fellows proposed ideas for bringing members of their social convoy together through dialogue, which reflect their learning and creativity. One idea involved hosting dialogue sessions in furnished display room units in a ready-to-assemble furniture store; another involved Fellows swapping parents for dialogue during short outings.



Practising Personal Dialogue Skills

To better equip Fellows to participate in dialogue, the day included a workshop on nonviolent communication, a conflict resolution tool recognised by UNESCO as best practice. The workshop focussed on “four voices”, a means to uncover one’s own needs as well as the needs of other dialogue participants.