Principles for discussion at community meetings

In order to facilitate healthy, open and balanced discussion at community meetings, we ask that community members reflect on and practice the following principles:

Dismantle conversational power structures

  • Recognise the hidden conversational architecture of the group: Who leads the conversation? Whose opinions incite head nods and agreement and whose seem to go unnoticed?  Who speaks first? Who speaks last?
  • Take steps towards fostering conversational inclusion. Encourage full participation by all present.
  • Take note of who is speaking and who is not. If you tend to speak often consider “moving back” and vice versa.

Practice self-focus

  • Attend to and speak about your own experiences and responses, rather than speaking for the whole group or expressing assumptions about the experience of others.

Understand the difference between intent and impact

  • Try to understand and acknowledge impact. Denying the impact of something said by focusing on intent can be more destructive than the initial interaction.

Practice true listening

  • Avoid planning what you’ll say as you listen to others.