Constructive participation in discussion is essential for Peace & Power! As a member of the group engaged in discussion you have important responsibilities that help shape your group’s interactions. Here are some guiding principles to keep in mind:
- Keep your comments brief, and avoid repeating things that have already been said; simply acknowledge that you agree with something that has been said already.
- When you pass the chair, be mindful of who has spoken the least, or who has not spoken; select these people as the next chair.
- Know that you can provide leadership to the group at any time – you do not have to defer to the convener to do this. If you believe it is time to “circle” to hear everyone’s current thoughts, then call for “circling.”
- If you sense that a disagreement or conflict is emerging, be aware that you can request to chair to summarize the different perspectives and facilitate a constructive “turn” in the discussion.
- Remember that it is as important to listen and it is to talk! Learn and practice active listening skills.
- Take your own notes during the discussion to remind yourself of what comes up for you as you listen to others; use your notes as a way to hold your thoughts and to resist the urge to interrupt someone who is talking!
- Be attentive to what someone else is saying and resist the urge to mentally start preparing your response.
- Give the other person time to complete their thoughts before you speak.
- When you speak, paraphrase what you heard the other person say to make sure you are taking in their message as they intend it.
- After the other person has agreed that you have expressed their thoughts accurately, then share your response to what they said.
- Be kind and respectful throughout the interaction, especially if you disagree. Assure the other person that your intention is to reach common ground and to understand one another’s point of view, even if you do not agree.