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What is Dialogue?

Dialogue, in general, is a process that involves mutual consultation in pursuit of common understanding through active and compassionate listening in order to discover similarities and understand differences in diverse perspectives and points of view. 

Dialogue is not a simple conversation, nor a debate. It is not about convincing others to agree with one’s perspective or convert them. The aim of dialogue is to overcome misunderstandings and dispel stereotypes in order to promote mutual understanding.

Dialogue is about developing mutual respect in order to build sustainable relationships. Dialogue focuses on clarifying both the similarities and the differences on any topic between two persons or groups of people. It builds bridges among those who are different to each other. It transforms human relationships from a state of ignorance or intolerance to a state of deeper understanding and respect for what is shared and what is not. 

What is Dialogue?

What is Interreligious/Interfaith Dialogue?

Interreligious (also sometimes called interfaith) dialogue follows the same definition as above, but with one difference: this dialogue takes place between people of different religious backgrounds who seek to learn more about one another.

Interreligious dialogue is not about winning converts or theological discussion. It concerns the discovery of similarities and differences between diverse religious/faith standpoints as a means of establishing trust and building a community of common purpose across religious boundaries.

Through interreligious dialogue, religious communities can overcome perceived and real differences to collectively address challenges in their local, national, regional, or global contexts, such as hate speech, injustice, or environmental degradation.

The 10 Principles of Dialogue

Establish a safe space
A safe space is an inclusive environment where participants are able to share without fear of judgement or discrimination.
Agree that the main purpose of dialogue is learning
The participants should approach dialogue with the intention of learning about the others as well as about their own perceptions.
Use appropriate communication skills
Skills such as listening and sharing with respect and asking questions constructively are essential for building a safe environment for dialogue.
Set appropriate ground rules
Ground rules developed and agreed upon among the participants ensure a safe and constructive environment.
Take risks, articulate feelings and confront perceptions with honesty
Participants share a responsibility to listen with an open mind as others express their thoughts and feelings and should be willing to share their own.
Place the human relationship first
Dialogue is based on building relationships and trust to address common challenges. The more we invest in building the relationship, the easier it will become to address hard questions.
Address gradually difficult questions and slowly establish distance from them
Addressing hard questions often makes the participants emotional. Therefore, we need to descend slowly from these ‘deeper’ topics, by addressing lighter ones at both the beginning and towards the end of a dialogue.
Do not try to skirt around difficult issues
It is normal for the dialogue to go through difficult stages. It is vital to let the differences and disagreements emerge so that deeper understanding can happen and eventually even help.
Expect to be transformed
If we hope that the dialogue will yield a sustainable transformative relationship, then we need to expect to be transformed. What will be transformed is not our values or our principles, but rather how we perceive others and the issues being discussed.
Bring transformation to others
Dialogue needs to be sustained. Participants should together think about how to bring newly discovered perspectives to their communities and daily lives.

Why do We Need Dialogue?

Every day, we encounter different kinds of people. Sometimes these differences cause misunderstandings when other people’s appearance, beliefs or practices differ from our own.

We ask ourselves: “Why do they do that? How can they believe that?” If we dismiss these differences too quickly, we fail to understand others for who they are. Indeed, we often expect acceptance without granting it to others. Dialogue is unconditional respect for the other in pursuit of common understanding and purpose.

In dialogue with others who are different to us, we can discern the sources of tensions or conflict and, in accepting these, draw on the universal similarities we share to address common challenges. Dialogue is never directed towards uniformity of opinion and expression. It reflects and brings about the principle of unity in diversity.

KAICIID and Dialogue

Capacity-Building

Teaching people to dialogue is at the forefront of many of our programmes. Through our Dialogue Knowledge Hub , Fellows Programme , and partnership with the World Organization of the Scouting Movement, we work together with dialogue experts around the world to give people the tools to mainstream dialogue in their communities.

For Effective Policymaking

As a convener, KAICIID brings together religious leaders and policymakers to promote dialogue as a fundamental aspect of policymaking aimed at tackling global problems such as COVID-19, climate change, inequality and poverty. Through our role in initiatives such as the G20 Interfaith Forum and United Against Violence in the Name of Religion , and through our efforts to counter hate speech, we aim to recognise and promote the invaluable contributions of religious communities to peace and development, and to work with them to solve global challenges.

To Promote Social Cohesion

Whether it is due to religious differences or conflict over land or resources, dialogue is essential in bringing people together to overcome common challenges. Our global programmes promote social cohesion through dialogue in communities around the world by building platforms where sustained dialogue can take place in conflict-prone situations and societies such as in Nigeria , Myanmar and the Arab Region .

KAICIID Dialogue Resources

Project

Dialogo! The game for learning to dialogue

Publication

Dialogue for Peace Manual: Guide for Dialogue Ambassadors

Publication

COVID-19 Interfaith Guide

Publication

Inclusion through Dialogue: Promising Practices for Integration

Publication

Project Integration through Dialogue Toolkit: Handbook

Publication

Project Integration through Dialogue Toolkit: Activity Materials

Publication

Project Integration through Dialogue Toolkit: Sample Handouts

Publication

STUDY: Partnering with Local Faith Actors to Support Peaceful and Inclusive Societies