The following ground rules were adopted in support of our commitment to honest, direct, respectful, and caring communications:
Listen attentively and pause before speaking.
Pay attention to others’ words and nonverbal communication. Ask how other people are feeling or what they are thinking rather than make assumptions. If unsure, repeat what you believe the other person is saying. Pause, and think about what is being said before speaking. Use eye contact. Avoid side conversations. Turn cell phones off.
Speak directly, honestly and concisely.
Share your ideas. Speak for yourself. Communicate agreement or disagreement explicitly. Don’t assume others know how you feel or what you are thinking: tell them. If needed, ask for help clarifying what you are trying to say. Speak loudly enough.
Speak your own truth.
Be mindful, genuine, and authentic. Synchronize body and mind, and remain in the here and now. Say what you feel and what you believe.
Allow everyone the opportunity to speak.
Wait to be recognized by the facilitator. Allow others to speak without interrupting them. Cooperate with the facilitator in giving everyone the opportunity to speak. No one should dominate the conversation. If you’re afraid you’ll forget something you want to say, jot it down.
Assume good intentions.
If you don’t understand, ask for clarification. Affirm other people’s expressed feelings. Don’t make attributions about others’ motives.
Respect each other.
Address people with respect. Avoid judging, blaming, or patronizing others. Avoid sarcasm and other forms of emotional coercion in place of clearly explaining your disagreement with an idea. Speak to the issue when disagreeing or criticizing instead of focusing on an individual.
Respect the group.
Use the Caring Communication Ground Rules. Hold to time agreements. Respect the facilitator. Avoid being argumentative or engaging in other disruptive behavior. Address private conflicts in private, not in the group.