Bob is the guy I would want with me as a mentor if I was stuck on a desert island with a group of people, and I was tasked with getting them to work together. His capacity to observe how I tick —to listen to my observations of group dynamics & of myself— has empowered me to step into the arena, be willing to take risks, and commit to being my true self and not somebody else’s vision of what a facilitator should be. I have told him he is like one of those fountains with the all the different buttons you can step on to make it spout. He is overflowing with broad, deep experience and knowledge. Despite his expertise, he is forever a student willing to learn —and admit that he is learning— from anyone, at any level of experience. He is an endlessly flowing well because he does not just spout. He lives in the flow. His humor, humility and humanity are present at every moment. 

Courtney Cole

Mediator/Facilitator/Product Strategist

I recently had the privilege of studying under Bob for six months in his course, “Transforming Dialogue”. The value that Bob brought to this course surpassed any I had previously experienced. This course is not merely about Reflective Structured Dialogue, or about bringing people together into dialogue, or even about the strategies that lead to successful dialogues among individuals entrenched in identity-based conflicts. While these topics are indeed covered, it is Bob’s profound wisdom and unique approach that truly amplify the impact of this course.
 Bob’s influence will undoubtedly enhance any space I am lucky enough to facilitate. “Transforming Dialogue” is, in essence, a masterclass in facilitation, especially in environments where the relationships between participants are of utmost importance. 
 What stands out is Bob’s unwavering commitment to creating and facilitating spaces where the conditions for dialogue are present, in other words, where participants feel heard, understood, and seen by others, even those they are in conflict with. His commitment to this purpose is truly impressive, and has inspired me to focus on fostering more human and satisfying relationships that stem from complex rather than simplistic perspectives of each other.
 Bob’s genuine concern for his participants, coupled with his decades of experience and deep familiarity with the subject matter, made this course far more valuable than I had anticipated. I want to express my gratitude to Bob for this extraordinary course, which I am confident will have a positive impact on my work for the rest of my career. Thank you, Bob.

Pete Turok

Transforming Tension into Teamwork: Developer of Innovative Conflict Resolution Systems that Cultivate Inclusive, Productive Cultures

I have had the privilege of working with Bob for several years on dialogue training for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh / Allegheny County Library staff as well as several community leaders, and I can confidently say that he is an exceptional professional in the field of dialogue and conflict resolution. His openness and flexibility were invaluable to our time together, and I consider him a friend as well as a colleague.
 I wholeheartedly recommend Bob as a mentor, trainer, and coach. His expertise and guidance are pivotal for anyone seeking to develop a dialogue practice within their community or in collaboration with others. Bob’s mentoring, training, and group coaching program offer a unique opportunity to enhance skills and create lasting impacts by changing the context and content of conversations.
 For more information about Bob and his transformative work, I encourage you to visit his website at Bob’s commitment, experience, and profound understanding of dialogue make him an invaluable asset to any individual or organization aiming to navigate complex conversations and foster understanding across differences

Jessica Bayless

Library Services Supervisor, Civic and Virtual Engagement, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

The experience of attending a two-day workshop on Reflective Structured Dialogue with Robert R. Stains was transformative. We explored the many facets of the current need for dialogue in Finland and the potential of dialogue to create spaces to listen and be heard in a deep way. The experience, warmth and wisdom Bob brought to the room made it possible for all of us to explore our deepest fears and prejudices in a safe way. We left the training equipped with a fresh understanding of not only about dialogue, but also ourselves.

Jonna Kangasoja

Co-founder and Managing Director, Akordi, Helsinki ,

“Honest,” “relatable,” “knowledgeable,” “has a good presence” – these are a just a few of the comments students offered when asked their impressions of Bob Stains, who did a workshop for University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service graduate students last October. The general theme of feedback I received from students was that Bob seemed understand them. I could not agree more! As a facilitator and trainer, Bob Stains combines his extensive knowledge and experience with genuine empathy to deliver a powerful and transformative experience for participants. He will be invited back to the Clinton School of Public Service for years to come – he sets a fine example for budding public servants. 

Christina Standerfer, PhD

Associate Professor, Communication Faculty Director, Office of Community Engagement, Fulbright U.S. Scholar Alumni Ambassador , University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service

The depth of Bob’s heart and the breadth of his experience, skill, and wisdom make space for awe-inspiring relationships among people, even in the most difficult situations. Bob is my teacher, mentor, friend, and colleague. From basics through nuanced complexities and varied situations Bob has shown me that the well of resources available in the integration of love and skill is limitless. He lives what he teaches. He knows dialogue inside and out, and he knows how to couple it with countless ways that help people build relationships. I recently worked with Bob on a complex religious project that lasted two years. It was the gift of a lifetime. The longer you can work with Bob, the better for everyone, including you. 

Kathy Eckles

M.A. Psychology, Coaching and Group Facilitation

The first opportunity I had to work with Bob was in 2011 when we ran a program called Transformative Cells in the Philippines. Bob’s expertise in reflective structured dialogue was the foundation in the design of this beautiful program for college students. It was a safe space for expression and reflection. It is amazing to see how Bob continues to transform people’s lives with his work. He is dedicated to his advocacy, generous with his time and truly inspiring.

Mia Quiaoit-Corpus

Executive Director, Coach and Mediator, The CoRe Group, Manila

In my experience and what I know about the field, Bob Stains is one of the world’s most skilled people in training people in the power of dialogue. I have gone through his training and it was the best structured and clearest training I have ever experienced. It helped me as a community leader acquire a powerful method for helping my community find common ground over the many complex and emotionally charged issues it faces.

Mark Shoul

Executive Director at Hands Across North Quabbin, retired

I run the first and only Centre for Community Mediation in Finland, founded by the Finnish Refugee Council. We prevent and mediate conflicts between neighbours and groups, and foster practical and pragmatic ethnic relations in our society that started policies on diversity and multiculturality very late, only in the 1990’s with the arrival of first larger group of refugees and asylum seekers. I had the pleasure to meet Mr Robert Stains during his first visit in Finland in November 2016. After passionate discussions on mediation and dialogue practices over lunches/dinners/coffees and a workshop on “Bridging Chasms: The Power and Practice of Reflective Structured Dialogue”, I was very inspired to translate the key ideas of the method in Finnish and very encouraged to continue and develop further my work. I know I wasn’t the only one inspired… Today, we keep in touch and Robert Stains mentors me and gets back with a lot of inspiring and useful questions whenever I write to him about a dilemma I encounter. I warmly recommend his services.

Miriam Attias Head

Center for Community Mediation • Finnish Refugee Council • Helsinki, Finland

Bob has been a pre-eminent leader, convenor, teacher, and consultant in the field of civil discourse for over twenty years, helping people and organizations find common values and purpose to overcome divisions and challenges. I first learned from Bob as a teacher of several courses in reflected structured dialogue that transformed my approach to practice and teaching. Later, I supported and saw him develop successful programs for lawyers, law professors, and students.
 Based on my experience as a lawyer, mediator, and professor, Bob has a unique capacity to inspire, teach both students and other professionals, and empower others to listen and speak from the heart. He exemplifies the values of dialogue with his integrity, soft-spoken but probing questions, insights, and humility.

David Gibbs

Visiting Leadership Fellow, University of Tennesee College of Law, Lawyer and Mediator

Bob has provided dialogue training to multiple classes of my students at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and has consistently received strong praise from the students. I think that Bob excels at helping people understand the psychological dynamics of relationships, and how dialogue can help people change those dynamics to create healthier relationships. That Bob helps students grasp these psychological aspects of dialogue is clear from the reflection papers in which my students have described their takeaways from Bob’s trainings. Many of my students have used the dialogue design and facilitation skills they learned from Bob, in their Capstone projects and in their subsequent careers. Some of these students have worked with Essential Partners to conduct dialogue projects with middle-school and high-school students or with health care professionals. One of our alumni is using the dialogue skills they learned from Bob to design a reading and discussion group on issues of race and diversity in their workplace. In my experience, Bob’s dialogue trainings make a powerful and lasting impact. I strongly recommend him.

Robert Richards

PhD, Assistant Professor, Clinton School of Public Service