7 Principles of Constructive Dialogue
Framework for respectful conversations for our community


Taken from the updated Faculty Handbook (Appendix E-7 Principles of Constructive Dialogue)

To guide our conversations, all members of our community will commit to following the 7 Principles of Constructive Dialogue. These Principles will provide the framework for respectful conversations so we may all learn and grow from each other’s insights and perspectives.

  1. Presume good intentions
    If someone says something you disagree with or which you don’t understand, assume that the person has good intent. Ask questions and seek first to clarify, not to disregard the comment. St. Ignatius of Loyola reminds us that we should be “more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false.”
  2. Use “I” statements
    Your experience is true for you, but it may not be universal. Speak about your experiences and things that are true for you. Use statements that begin with “I think that…,” “I feel….,” or “It seems to me….” Avoid statements that begin with “You know how you…..,” “We all believe….,” or “Everyone knows…..” 
  3. Understand that the speaker’s experience is valid for him/her
    Although an individual’s experience may be different than yours, that doesn’t make it any less valid. If you don’t agree with someone’s viewpoint, ask questions and challenge, but understand that that person’s experience is true for him or her. Seek to understand WHY another person may be having a different experience than you and try to see the situation from their perspective.
  4. Ask questions of others as individuals
    While we all belong to different groups, you shouldn’t expect one person to speak for an entire group of people. Seek to understand individual experiences rather than over-generalizing and making assumptions about an entire group based on one person’s experience within that group.
  5. Listen to understand, not to respond
    Sometimes when we are talking with someone, we are focused on what we are going to say in response and we fail to fully hear the other person. When listening to someone speak, have a mindset which attempts to understand the position, thoughts, or feelings of the speaker. Avoid a mindset which only listens in order to respond. Learning moments often come from uncomfortable conversations. Do not run away from a learning moment because you are uncomfortable. Conflict should lead to learning and understanding. 
  6. Recognize that one’s intent may differ from one’s impact
    What you intend when you speak is not always precisely how your words are heard. Be mindful of your intent when you share and also be sure that what you say does not have a harmful impact on another. 
    Too often, we default to saying things like “That’s not what I meant,” or “I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Be conscious both of your intent when speaking and the impact your words have on another. On the flip side, be aware that the way you perceived someone else’s words are not necessarily the way those words were intended. 
  7. Seek to raise the bar for yourself and others around you
    Strive to live out our mission to be “Men For and With Others.” More specifically, enter into dialogue with others with the mindset of upholding all aspects of the Grad at Grad (Open to Growth, Loving, Intellectually Competent, Religious, and Committed to Doing Justice).

    Actively seek to lift up those around you and influence our community in a positive way.