Civil Dialogue and Citizenship

Navigating Our Deepest Differences

Lesson II. What is Civil Dialogue? Let's Practice

Step 6. Practice Dialogue

Find a Topic to Disagree About

Find a topic with which you and your partner disagree. Here are some statements to consider with your partner to find some disagreement. 

  • Any person entering the United States illegally should be arrested and deported.
  • There are too many school shootings. It should be harder to own a gun. 
  • Schools should be allowed to discipline students with paddles and switches. 
  • Teenagers should only be taught sexual abstinence in public schools and should not be taught information about safe sexual practices or given contraceptives. 
  • Basic healthcare coverage is a human right and should be guaranteed by the government. 
  • Marijuana is not harmful, nor is it a gateway drug to more addictive substances. It should be legal in Utah. 
  • Unofficial, self-appointed militias in Utah are dangerous for the health and welfare of protesters. 
  • Protesting should be illegal in the United States because it devolves into looting and anarchy. 
  • People should not let their religion influence politics. 
  • Local officials always know what is better for a community than the federal government. 
  • Dancing in public is inappropriate and should be outlawed.
  • Children under 18 are not responsible enough to drive with passengers in the car. 
  • The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment and should be discontinued. 
  • We should make the most of our lives because there is no life after death. 
  • Choose your own topic to disagree about with your partner.

Practice: Partner Exercise 2

For 6-8 minutes, explore your chosen topic with your partner by responding to the questions below. Before you begin, review the  civil dialogue guidelines: 

  1. Choose a mindset of openness and curiosity 
  2. Listen generously
  3. Seek to understand, not debate
  4. Allow others to speak for themselves–do not tell others what they believe
  5. Reciprocate by respectfully expressing your differing point of view
  6. Acknowledge similarity and difference equally

Discuss these questions with your partner:

  1.  What is it about your chosen topic  that makes you feel strongly? 
  2. What values drive those strong feelings in you?
  3. Explain to your your partner why you feel strongly.
  4. Allow your partner to explain why he or she disagrees. 
  5. After exploring how you disagree on the topic, explore with your partner ways you might agree on the topic. 
Lesson II. Step 6 of 7


Learn more about how to promote the 3Rs — rights, responsibility, respect — in your school and community.