Dialogue Skills

Peter Garrett

Dialogue Skills

Over the last 20 years we have used practical experience to develop a range of skills for dialogue, and to put those skills in a form that they can be simply introduced to others so that they can learn how to work dialogically, locally and at scale.  Dialogue Engagement Skills will help any group of people to communicate more effectively and to talk and think together well.   They work just as well with Executives, staff, prisoners, families and community agencies and between all of these groupings.  The skills help the engagement from the outset despite differences in power and confidence.  The Dialogue Engagement skills are fundamental to dialogic work, so we have created a 1-day Dialogue Skills Training Course to introduce these skills.

Dialogic Change is participatory.  Those affected get involved in talking and thinking about what is required, and the change is done with rather than to people. That runs against prison culture, as prisons are closed hierarchical organisations, based on a command and control culture which requires you to do as you are told.  Dialogic change in a prison requires deliberate design and the use of engagement skills.  Usually change comes from the top, and the senior decision-makers have to connect with people on the ground, staff, prisoners, their families, who know what is really happening and what would really work.  Change that is initiated from the grass roots, where they can see the need, requires different skills to engage senior sponsors.  The Dialogic Change skills are based on getting the right people into the right conversation at the right time. 

Following the offender journey out into the community, a different set of skills again is required to affect resettlement and social integration.  Here you are not dealing with a closed hierarchical organisation but an open system, where ownership, collective leadership, sponsorship, and contradictory interests are the challenge to system change.

Our Research section describes some of the work that has helped us to develop these practice models.  The Getting Started section will help you to think about how you could begin to apply some of these skills.

Read the articles have been written by Peter Garrett for the official newsletter of the Virginia Dept of Corrections to support the introduction of Dialogue through the Dialogue Skills Training to all of the 12,000 staff across the Department.

If you would like to attend a Dialogue Skills Training Session in the UK please get in touch