Spheres Of Light is an Affiliate Subcommittee of the Pagan Awareness Network Inc.
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Ground Rules for Open Communication
"Ground rules" are statements that reflect people's best intentions regarding how they wish to treat one another in civil dialogue. They tend to be present in many positive social relationships, and they are reflected in ethical codes and "the golden rule." In conflictive, challenging relationships, ground rules are necessary; in part because there is often an implicit assumption that one person's belief or opinion overrides that of another. In Circles/Covens, this becomes even more complex, as several perspectives may co-exist in the group about "appropriate behaviour". The following ground rules are offered to assist in open and friendly communication.
- We will make a sincere commitment to listen to one another, to try to understand the other person's point of view before responding.
- What we discuss together will be kept in confidence, unless there is explicit agreement regarding who needs to know further information.
- We agree to talk directly with the person with whom there are concerns, and not seek to involve others in "gossip" or "alliance building."
- We agree to try our hardest and trust that others are doing the same within the group.
- We agree to deal with the issues, not the people with whom we disagree.
When listening to the other person's point of view, the following responses are often helpful:
|What to Do
||How to Say It
|Encourage the other person to share his or her issues as
fully as possible.
||"I want to understand what has upset you."
"I want to know what you are really hoping for."
|Clarify the real issues, rather than making assumptions.
Ask questions that allow you to gain this information, and
which let the other person know you are trying to
||"Can you say more about that?"
"Is that the way it usually happens?"
|Restate what you have heard, so you are both able to see
what has been understood so far - it may be that the other
person will then realize that additional information is needed.
||"It sounds like you weren't expecting that to happen."
"Can I clarify that statement? Did you mean this?"
|Reflect feelings - be as clear as possible.
||"I can imagine how upsetting that must have been."
|Validate the concerns of the other person, even if a solution
is elusive at this time. Expressing appreciation can be a
very powerful message if it is conveyed with integrity and
|| "I really appreciate that we are talking about this issue."
"I am glad we are trying to figure this out."
By taking a listening stance into the interaction, you set the scene for your opportunity to share your concerns about the conflict. Again, we recognize that this can be very challenging! But, if you persevere, the effort is often worth it.