INTEGRA: A Model of Intentional Creative Dialogue & Negotiation

The following text was submitted to NCDD by , Assistant Director of the Intentional Living Institute (

What is INTEGRA?

Developed and copyrighted by Chris Saade, the INTEGRA? model of intentional creative dialogue is comprised of a 6-step process that emphasizes heart-centered negotiation and community building. The fundamental power of INTEGRA emerges from its roots as a ?heart-centered? model. The human heart is the center-point around which this process of dialogue and negotiation revolves.

The practical application of INTEGRA grows out of a core and underlying philosophical belief: a belief that suggests that humanity?s ability to create a peaceful and diversity-respecting co-existence is closely tied, in part, to our ability to intentionally develop essential tools and skills of communication and interaction. Tools and skills of heart-centered dialogue and negotiation.

Step 1 of INTEGRA emphasizes tools and skills that allow a respectful and effective dialogue space to be established. A space that allows the heart to emerge. Specifically, in this initial step, three essential commitments are expressed between all who will participate in the dialogue process. And, the dialogue partners then passionately honor specific qualities that they respect in each other. The commitments are voiced and the honorings are exchanged before any theme-related dialogue occurs. In this way, a respectful and effective space is established where the truth of the heart can be freely expressed.

Step 2 focuses on the full and paradoxical speaking of the heart. That is, each person speaks ?both sides? of their feelings related to the dialogue theme (i.e. whatever anger, sadness or anxiousness they are feeling, as well as their feelings of happiness, peacefulness or excitement). It is essential that feelings are expressed from both sides. In addition, the facilitator of the dialogue ensures that such expression of feelings is ?clean and clear? with no analysis, judgment and/or justification.

Step 3 is about speaking the essence of one?s deepest and most core desire. Through such speaking of desire, the human heart is revealed in its raw truth. Crucial to this step is the ability to distinguish ?essence? from ?form.? The vital challenge for the dialogue partners is to hold passionately to their heart?s essence, while simultaneously being fully and passionately willing to surrender the form through which their essence is expressed. ?Essence? is non-negotiable. ?Form? is completely negotiable.

Step 4 is very challenging. It requires the dialogue partners to build bridges between each other. Such bridges are constructed through passionately advocating important aspects of desires and positions that are greatly different from one?s own. In the truest sense of the old clich?d phrase, this step is about putting oneself in the shoes of the other. It?s about intentionally stepping outside of one?s safe and familiar comfort zone. It?s about truly encountering the other. It?s about stretching oneself to the point of finding the ground on which the heart of the other resides.

Step 5 is where the climax of the INTEGRA process occurs. This step invites and challenges the dialogue partners to co-create an inclusive vision of solidarity and a creative plan of action. For the vision to be ?inclusive? it must bring together the essence of each person?s core desire and/or fundamental position. Again, distinguishing ?essence? from ?form? is extremely important. An inclusive vision can be co-created only if each person holds the paradox: passionate commitment to protecting their essence and passionate flexibility regarding how their essence is given form in the world.

Step 6 is devoted to celebration. Celebrating the process of co-creation. Celebrating each other. Celebrating the inclusive vision that has been born. Celebrating the ?real? expression of our humanity ? a ?realness? that can only reveal itself through negotiation and partnership with others.

When is the INTEGRA model most successful or appropriate?

The INTEGRA model is very powerful and extremely effective in situations that require a negotiation of differences and/or conflict. Each step of the model plays a vital role in guiding the dialogue partners into an authentic, respectful and mutually beneficial encounter with each other.

When ?difference? and/or ?conflict? is brought to the table, a common occurrence is for people to hold rigidly to their position, believing that their way is the ?right? way. As a result, the dialogue process often disintegrates into a destructive and dead-end experience of arguing, debating and proving of points. The first step of INTEGRA immediately addresses this potential for disintegration through its three core commitments:

  1. A commitment from each person to fully speak their ideal position/desire and to fully listen to the ideal positions/desires of others (with no arguing or debating and no attempts to prove the ?rightness? of one?s own position/desire or disprove the positions/desires of others).
  2. A commitment to speak the weakness as well as the strength in one?s own position and acknowledge the strength in the positions of others.
  3. A commitment to passionately negotiate a co-created outcome with each and all of one?s dialogue partners.

Through asserting such commitments at the very beginning of the dialogue process, it allows and challenges people who are in a place of tension with each other to ?step up to the heart-centered human plate? and break free from their limiting and one-sided conception of things. INTEGRA emanates from what we see as a fundamental truth of our shared human nature: Human beings ? at our deepest levels ? yearn for what is most important and precious to us to be acknowledged and respected by others. The ultimate effectiveness of the INTEGRA process begins with the clear and solid establishment of a respectful space where the hearts of people ? in all their diverse and tension-filled glory ? can be passionately expressed, graciously received and honorably negotiated.

As mentioned above, the subsequent steps of the INTEGRA process focus on particular tools: speaking the paradox of the heart; distinguishing essence and form; advocating aspects of positions/desires that are very different from one?s own; and working together to establish an inclusive vision that joins the essence of all differing positions/desires. With groups both large and small, within families, between individuals (and around any issue or theme), the steps and tools of the INTEGRA model are highly effective in helping people navigate through the tense and rough waters of difference and conflict.

In addition to addressing matters that put people at odds with each other, INTEGRA has also proven itself to be an incredibly effective model that allows people to engage in a process of exploratory dialogue. With a few slight adjustments, the steps of INTEGRA can facilitate a powerful process of dialogue and interaction that focuses around the impassioned and respectful sharing of ideas and proposals. When used in this way, INTEGRA becomes not a vehicle for negotiation and resolution of differences. Rather, it becomes an intentional and creative method for authentically engaging each other and stimulating energy around matters of mutual interest, importance and concern.

More about INTEGRA's Six Steps

STEP 1: Establish a respectful and effective space for the HEART.

A. Speak the core commitments you hold regarding your dialogue partner/s and the process of dialogue:

  1. ?Each/all of you are very important to me. And, I want you to know that I am highly committed to our process of dialogue.?
  2. ?I commit to fully speak the ideal of my heart and to fully listen to the ideal of your heart/s. I will not attempt to prove that my position is right, neither will I attempt to disprove your position/s.?
  3. ?I will speak the weakness as well as the strength of my position. I will acknowledge the strength in your position/s.?
  4. ?I am fully committed to negotiating a co-created outcome.?

B. Powerfully honor a quality you respect in your dialogue partner/s.

STEP 2: Speak fully the paradox of your heart.

Speak fully both sides of your feelings: your anger, sadness and anxiety, as well as your excitement, happiness and peacefulness; your pain as well as your joy. Speak your feelings without analyzing yourself or your dialogue partner/s. Do not attempt to justify what you feel rather describe it richly.

Step 3: Speak the essence of your heart?s deepest and most paramount desire.

Speak to your dialogue partner/s:

A. The essence as well as the preferred form of your heart?s core desire;

B. The purpose of your desire (not your reasons for having the desire);

C. Your request for joint action (I invite you to join me in?.) (without proving or disproving anything).

D. The gift to the other you propose with your request.

STEP 4: Passionately advocate an important part of the other?s position and speak a weakness in your own position.

As stated above, Step 4 requires the dialogue partners to build bridges between each other. Such bridges are constructed through passionately advocating important aspects of desires and positions that are greatly different from one?s own.

STEP 5: Imagine and co-create an inclusive vision of solidarity.

Engage passionately in exploring creative options for a greater inclusive vision. An inclusive vision is one that would join the essences of everyone?s differing ideal desires/positions while negotiating their form of expression.

A. Separate the essence of your ideal desire/position from its form.

B. Propose visions of action that include the essence of your desire/position as well as the essence of the position/s of your partner/s.

STEP 6: Passionately celebrate the process of co-creation and the ?real? emerging from your creative dialogue.

Celebrate the process of dialogue, your new inclusive vision, your relationship with your dialogue partner/s and an admirable quality your partner/s displayed during the dialogue process.

The Intentional Living Institute

The INTEGRA model represents a core portion of the training methodology that is taught by The Intentional Living Institute (an organization that will soon be changing its name to The Intentional Life-Learning Institute). Founded and directed by Chris Saade, the ILI is an organization committed to such ever-evolving and enduring historical/global/ethical values as freedom, justice and solidarity.

As a war survivor from Beirut and someone who was active in a peace group in Lebanon, Chris is very aware of the pain and suffering experienced by human beings when tools of dialogue and negotiation are not developed and utilized. Thus, inspired by his personal experiences, Chris has devoted the past 25 years to researching and developing a training model and teaching methodology that focuses on both social change and in-depth self development. Through the INTEGRA model (and our accompanying emphasis on teaching people how to live their everyday lives in an intentional and heart-centered manner) the ILI is dedicated to helping people understand and integrate the deep and intimate connection between social conscience and self development.

With INTEGRA as its centerpiece, the ILI offers a unique and very timely program we call ?life leadership training.? Through our work, we seek to make a contribution to the ongoing evolution of humanity and our world. It is our belief that those who develop mastery in the art and skills of what we call ?intentional negotiated living? have an important leadership role to play in helping humanity move forward toward a more respectful and peaceful co-existence. And, when we speak of leadership, we are meaning ?everyday leadership.? That is, as people learn the tools of INTEGRA and intentional negotiated living (and incorporate these skills into their day-to-day living) they begin to naturally model for others a more respectful, impassioned and mature manner of communication and interaction. This is ultimately what we mean by life-leadership.

The ILI is based in Charlotte and Chapel Hill, North Carolina and is in the process of becoming a 501c3 non-profit organization.

For Further Information...

For those who want to know more about INTEGRA and the work of the Intentional Living Institute, they can visit Or, they can contact Barry Sherman at (704) 358-9630 or online at .


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