Civil Dialogue the Bridge to a Better World with Charlie Young

Mr Charlie Young
I was pleased to welcome  Mr Charlie Young, an Experienced Mediator and a facilitator in the Oregon Foreclosure Avoidance Programme. He holds a BA from St. John’s Seminary and served as a priest for the Baker City, Oregon Diocese from 1958 to 1977.
Charlie Young is the author of “Constructive Communication with a Path for Challenging Situations.” His book “Constructive Communication”, revised 2020, results from his experiences as a pastor, flight instructor, corporate pilot, Human Resources Director, Safety Officer, Head Trainer of TQM and 23+ years as a mediator.
In this episode, we analysed the following questions:
1) What does Constructive / Inclusive Communication entail?
2) Where can it be used?
3)  Is perception essential for Inclusive Communication?
4) What are the basis and importance of perceptions?
5) What are the main hindrances to Inconclusive communication?
6) In your book- Constructive Communication: A path for Challenging Situations, you used the acronym VECS; Can you explain this acronym?


What do we mean by these types of communication? These are communication of inclusiveness. It’s a language of sharing ideas, concepts, interests and insights through openness and searching to reach common understandings.  By inviting others verbally and non-verbally to be part of our thoughts, an environment of mutual discovery is created.  To be most effective, all parties involved in the dialogue must be open to the invitation. Why? This is because that constructive communication entails four elements- Concept, Feelings, Interest and Humaneness. On the other hand, civil dialogue can be used in any situation involving explanations and developing relationships. It does not apply to chit chat.

What does Constructive Inclusive Communication entail?

Charlie pointed out that he considers the four terms constructive, inclusive, civil and mindful communication to be synonyms. It is a development of the consciousness of active listening. For instance, when he is talking to someone, he speaks in a way that he is sending a message to them. He wants to understand what they are trying to share with him; though he may disagree with it but he would listen to understand it.  Inclusive Communication addresses these problems with specific examples so that people can have mindful communication.

Where can Constructive / Inclusive Communication be used?

For instance, in the United States, Constructive / Inclusive Communication can be used in the government because every bill or law or regulation that is passed will include the thoughts of everyone. The second place where this can be used is in the home- it helps the relationship. Finally, where Constructive / Inclusive Communication can be used is at the high school level. The kids would know how to communicate better and thus would have a great relationship. Thus, Constructive Inclusive Communication applies to everyone.

 Is perception essential for Inclusive Communication?
People’s experiences are entirely different, and out of those experiences, whether from bad parents amongst others- the exposed experiences becomes embedded in their mind. Hence, some perceptions are the results of people’s experiences. However, some of these perceptions are so embedded that people often do not know they are there, which affects how they relate to others. Nevertheless, constructive inclusive communication helps people make themselves aware of the perceptions that exist in their minds so that they can change them.
What are the basis and importance of perceptions?

Generally, people perceive concepts through the lenses of their experiences.  Hence, each person perceives ideas or concepts differently due to their experience. Failure to understand and accept this concept hinders reaching common understanding and empathy. Not being tolerant of the differences in persons’ perceptions is a roadblock to a common understanding.

Assumptions are the result of a lack of understanding which in turn results in mistrust.  These assumptions are often the result of erroneous perceptions. Thus, without understanding, there are assumptions which often result in cycles of mistrust- Negative assumptions, Observed aggressive behaviour and Self protective behaviour. It is essential to point out, the only way to break these cycles is to accept the concept of perceptions. Without acceptance teamwork and common understandings become inconsequential/meaningless, particularly in mediation.

 What are the main hindrances to Inconclusive communication? The main hindrances to inclusive communication are lack of good faith & trust and the inability to communicate.

In your book- Constructive Communication: A path for Challenging Situations, you used the acronym VECS; Can you explain this acronym? VECS is an acronym used by all mediators.  It stands for Validating – Empathizing – Clarifying – Summarizing

Validating: Refers to facts.  This does not mean that I agree with the other person.  An example could be, understanding the beliefs of another person even though you may not believe in the same way.  To understand and accept is not the same as agreeing with a concept.

Empathizing: Refers to emotions and feelings.  We are sharing that we can identify with the person’s emotions and feelings.  An example could be, “I believe I can understand your feelings of losing your job.  I went through the same thing a few years ago.” Without empathy, the thinking process may be impeded.  Often, it is the key to a breakthrough in negotiations.

Clarifying:  Sends a message that we are interested in the person’s ideas.  Assists us to adjust the concepts being shared to our way of thinking. i.e., our way of forming perceptions.  Clarifying often includes clarifications which initiate some good inclusive communication.

 Summarizing: Repeats back in a shortened version what we believe we have heard. Often a clarification of the summary is made by the speaker. This clarification by the speaker starts a sharing. Thus, it’s better to summarize and have some additional clarifications than to assume.


By practicing VECS with persons with whom we are comfortable, or during mediation sessions, we can change our present paradigm of communicating to one of inclusive communication.

Click here to listen to the full version of Episode 20 of EVA.

Charlie Young, Constructive Communication with a Path for challenging situations (Revised Edition 2017)