Building blocks

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    Mutual respect

    A key principle is the belief that everyone has a valid viewpoint and should therefore be respected. Ensuring mutual respect is a precondition for stakeholders to open up and share thoughts and vision. Mutual respect also contributes to a safe space.
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    Inclusivity, diversity and fairness

    Participants should feel that they are being treated fairly and have an equal right to express their view. This requires equal access to definitions, terms, concepts and knowledge. This general principle is often violated. For instance, equality may be violated by implicit hierarchy between scientist and laymen, because the latter may have a low self-esteem to speak freely.
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    For the most part, people don’t listen to others; they listen to themselves commenting on what is being said. Listening with an open mind, open heart and open will helps to connect to an emerging future. By true listening you postpone your imediate reaction to what is being said, which often results in a deeper level of interaction and understanding between people.
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    Openness and transparency about the nature and purpose of the conversation leads to clear expectations among participants. Who is part of the dialogue, who is excluded and why was this decided? Additionally: how does the decision-making process work and what are the underlying assumptions and uncertainties? Openness and transparency will increase trust and clarify expectations.
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    Critical reflection and responsiveness

    A dialogue can only be effective when participants are willing and able to critically reflect on their assumptions, motives, commitments. This also applies to their role in society and their perspective and position towards the central theme of the dialogue. Reflection is inextricably linked to willingness to learn and to be open to the viewpoints of others.
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    Dealing with conflict

    The ability to deal with conflict is especially applicable in conversations that are part of larger trajectories with science-society interactions. Examples are the protein transition or the transition to circular agriculture. In these kinds of trajectories, unpredictable situations are a daily reality. It helps if participants in the conversation find ways to manage this reality responsibly. Being responsive and adaptive is especially useful for complicated, constantly changing problems.