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The Little Book of Cool Tools for Hot Topics: Group Tools to Facilitate Meetings When Things Are Hot

This quick-reading 100-page book by Ron Kraybill and Evelyn Wright (Good Books, 2007) is a how-to collection of tools that have proven to be highly effective for facilitation of group conversation about difficult topics. The book shows how to help people hear each other when they feel like shouting; how to focus on the issues at stake rather than having a war of personalities; how to employ actual practices for better understanding (interviews, small-group discussions, role-reversal presentations); and how to move a group toward making a decision that all can honestly support.

Lead author Ron Kraybill is a professor of Conflict Studies in the Conflict Transformation Program at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia. During the years of the South African political transition, he trained local, regional, and national leadership in negotiation and mediation skills and served as a training advisor to the National Peace Accord.

Cool Tools is rich in anecdotes and practical how-to for any group faced with tension-filled decision-making.

The heart of the book is about a dozen tools for dialogue including:

  • Conflict spectrum
  • Samoan circle
  • Fishbowl
  • Spiral
  • No crosstalk dialogue
  • Open sentences dialogue
  • Circle of allies
  • World café
  • Polarity management
  • Timeline stories
  • Study circles

It also includes other tools including:

  • Circle on personal perspectives
  • Circle on positions and needs
  • Interviews in the presence of the whole group
  • Interviews with a listening chair
  • Role reversal presentations
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Sort cards
  • Sort cards – large group variation
  • Brainstorming
  • Brainstorming variations

The book sells for only $4.95 at Amazon.com.

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