These Agreements for group interactions have evolved through the experience of many fellow travelers of what it takes for groups to create safe space for the process of sharing and learning together. They originate from the staff of teachers at The Grove, a Pagan Leadership training organization.
You are invited to bring an awareness and practice of these agreements to all of our interactions with each other. Although we aren’t going to live these perfectly all the time, our intention is to help each other grow in the skillfulness that supports our greatest aliveness in healthy and sustainable community.
Speak from personal experience. Using “I” referencing leaves space for others to hear what you have to say. I can speak from my own experience using “I” making space for others to have a different view or opinion. When I hear someone using “I” statements to speak about their experience, I am able to honor it as theirs even if I disagree or have a different experience.
Listen well with no “cross talk”. Listening well involves making eye contact and having receptive body language. Non-verbally, I am communicating my attention and interest to them. Cross talk refers to communication that interrupts the speaker, turns the focus away from the speaker’s process, or offers solutions or advice that is not solicited. It also refers to having side conversations while someone else has the floor. “No cross talk” should not be confused with having a conversation where there is ongoing give and take, an exchange of information or ideas.
Ask for what you need and trust that others will ask for what they need. We support each other to identify and express our feelings and needs and to make requests on our own behalf. When someone is expressing distress or intense feelings I want to be full of care in the way I respond to them. It helps me to be aware of the impact the situation is having on my own internal experience. I can check myself to make sure I am not responding out of my own need to comfort or bring resolution to an uncomfortable situation. It may be very appropriate to be sure that a box of Kleenex is available to them, while also realizing that offering it to them directly could interrupt their process.
Keep your agenda forward. Your ideas are valuable! If you have something to add to a conversation or decision-making process, please make sure that you are heard. It is my responsibility to myself and to the group to develop my authentic ways of contributing to the shared process.
Exercise the “pause button”. We can choose to pause before we speak or act. When I feel the urge to offer thoughts, questions or input, I can pause and ask myself, “Do I really need to do or say this now?”; “Is this which is rising up within me just for me to personally reflect upon? And is this the time and place to share it to enhance the group experience?” We can use this pause as an opportunity to go within and listen.
“The Brownie”. Like sharing a plate of brownies, we are all sharing designated periods of time. Your participation is welcomed, encouraged and even vital to the group! Being aware of how much of the time “brownie” I am taking allows me to be sensitive to how often and how much I am sharing compared with others.
Confidentiality agreement. Whether in a private conversation or in a group setting, I consider what others share about their experience or process to be confidential. There are ways that I can speak freely from my own experience about a situation or conversation without breaking that confidence.
Use direct communication. It’s crucial to healthy community to take your “issue” to the source. There may be times when I need the support of talking to someone not involved before I am ready to address an issue directly. If so, I will then bring my process back to the person(s) involved. When our clear intent is to resolve issues directly, the process is very different than the damage that happens when we talk behind another person’s back. When necessary, I can ask for a moderator to be present to facilitate my ability to address a situation directly.
Help hold the overview. Our intention is to develop our skills at interacting and group process. We invite each individual to hold a larger view, internal and external, during all interactions. When I hold an awareness of self as well as other or group, then I can speak and act in ways that allow me to contribute with my greatest skillfulness.