As we try to regroup and refocus after our country’s “great divide,” we all need to work hard at setting new ground rules for respect and open dialogue. A refresher on good manners is long past due. As you talk with people who may have different viewpoints, you may first want to establish a few basic ground rules.
When setting ground rules, explain that conversations about politics, diversity, and the like, can be emotionally charged. The goal is to create a safe environment in which people can share experiences, opinions, and fears. To ensure that conversation participants feel ownership over the rules and the process, ask them to take part in the development of the Ground Rules. When they’ve been part of the process, they’re more likely to adhere to the rules. Here are some that you might want on the list:
- Speak only for yourself
- No personal attacks
- Listen – make sure everyone feels heard and validated
- Only one person speaks at a time
- Use “I” statements
- Agree to disagree; disagree without being disagreeable
- Critique ideas not people
- Be positive and non-judgemental; open to new ideas
Because it sometimes helps to have visual reminders of the the “rules,” Office Oxygen created a set of downloadable posters.