"This process was wonderful and hope-filled."
"Our leader stayed completely neutral as she was instructed which is so important. We never did ffind out what her viewpoint was. I was surprised why people came. I really expected to hear
various viewpoints forced down our throats by certain assertive individuals. This was not the
case at all. Also, people came because they wanted more information and more viewpoints.
There was also a lack of tension since we were told we were NOT THERE to change others
"I was opposed to small group discussions… Upon hearing your first question from my
group’s moderator, I was immediately impressed… With each succeeding question, I
became more and more impressed by the insightful manner in which the questions
drew out personal, in-depth statements of clarity from each participant… The overall
effect was so beautiful that it was actually dramatic… Suiting me even better was the
feeling of goodwill that enveloped the room, regardless of one’s expressed opinions or
even the outcome of the vote... Thank you very much for showing us a fine manner in
which to handle a touchy topic."
"This is necessary for democracy."
"While I like to think that I imparted some knowledge to the other participants, I also walked away with more than I brought. I was able to relate to them -- and them to me -- as people."
"I feel the quality of conversation was the best I have ever experienced when discussing
a controversial topic."
"I wanted to thank you for the wonderful work that Minnesota Council of Churches did
for us. We had an excellent facilitator and I would highly recommend the format to
anyone. It was an excellent evening."
~ Rev. Tom Jenkins, Mt. Calvary Lutheran, Eagan
"I can honestly say if we hadn’t used the 'Respectful Conversation' process ... we would have had a mess. Emotions were intense. But
the process worked, conversation was had, it was respectful and orderly. Whoever
formulated the questions we used had done a brilliant job."
~ Rev. Jeff Hansen,
United Methodist Church, Alexandria
"We highly recommend community groups seek this conversations experience through MCC. It provides a safe, thoughtful arena to learn from each other on topics that typically could cause tension and debate."
~ Toni Smith, Association of Minnesota Counties
"Thanks again for this wonderful process! It was truly a blessing to our congregation, and will hopefully shine a light on a better way of discussing challenging issues and addressing those issues not only as a congregation, but also in our individual lives."
~ Rev. Kent Claussen Gubrud, Christus Victor Lutheran Church, Apple Valley
"The skills we practiced that night went home with us, ready to be used another day.
You might be surprised to discover — or rediscover — how good an honest and respectful conversation feels."
~ Rev. Nancy Swanson, St. Peter's UCC, Stillwater
Evidence of Lasting Change
We asked people months after their Respectful Conversation experience whether they had observed any lasting impact on their own behavior. Here's what they shared:
"Because of this experience, I am more aware of my own attitude when listening to
others of different opinions."
"When talking about immigration reform with a person who holds a different opinion, I
tried to understand the person's story (even though my
conversation partner desired a debate). I was ... pleased that we conversed
about rather than debated upon the issue."
"I have recalled the value of great - really open questions: getting rid of 'don't you think'
statements; trying to eliminate my explanations before expressing my question."
"I believe I am a better listener, and can speak at more appropriate times. It is important
to not dominate the conversation."
"It was easier to keep an open mind and heart and to try to listen to other points of view."
"I have tried to carefully listen to opposing viewpoints in some conversations since then,
to listen for the experiences, and often fears, that feed into some viewpoints."
"The fact that we are having open conversations with each other is a triumph."
"I became more aware of the importance of letting a speaker complete his/her
comments before interjecting a comment or question."
"In the weeks following the event I found myself using better listening skills."
"This open discussion tells me I should never judge others by past experience or simple
"I am much more aware of how to move the conversation away from debate by asking
how people came to their conclusions and how these ideas came to be a part of their
"I was able to listen to my son [regarding a school progress issue] and ask clarifying questions