Rules of thumb for building the table


When assessing which individuals should participate in an assisted dialogue and negotiation, consider the following rules of thumb:

  • Organize a constructive project composed of different voices and views.
  • Look mainly to the “80%” (see below) to populate the project.
  • Look for “thought leaders” and “thought influencers” who are passionate about the issue, disagree with each other, and are willing to engage in a constructive dialogue.
  • Look for people of reasonable intelligence, reasonable openness, and reasonable self-discipline; those who are willing to enter into good-faith give-and-take solution-seeking discussions.
  • Make sure the voices and views of the 20% absolutists on the fringe are heard. At a minimum, make sure they are invited as speakers or panelists so their views are in the mix.
  • Reach out to some of that 20% to participate, but be very assertive and put explicit conditions on their involvement: 
    • A good-faith, give-and-take, solution-oriented effort
    • Attendance at all meetings
    • A willingness to refrain from independent media comments

These difficult choices are illustrated in the following diagram:

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