Guidelines for Constructive Conversations

  1. #share-time – To ensure that everyone gets a chance to participate in discussion, the moderator will place the spotlight on one person at a time, and will interrupt you if you go over time. 
    • Don’t
      1. Speak unless you have the spotlight.
      2. Go over time.
      3. Interrupt others while they have the spotlight.
    • Do
      1. Use Zoom reactions to give a thumbs-up or applause.
  1. #address-the-group – Always address all comments and questions to the group, and not to any single individual.
    • Don’t
      1. Respond verbally to what other people say when you do not have the spotlight.
      2. Concede any of your time to enable another member to speak.
    • Do
      1. Discuss ideas that other people have raised in discussion. For example, “I disagree with Sally’s remark that all speech should be protected.”
  1. #no-name-calling – Do not use emotionally charged words like “racist” or “sexist” or “stupid.”  Use alternative words to express your ideas.
    • Don’t
      1. Focus your criticism on an individual member of our community, as in an ad-hominem attack. 
      2. Don’t “call-out” other members of the discussion circle.
    • Do
      1. Focus any criticism on ideas, and make it constructive.
      2. If you feel offended by something that someone said, take a breath, and discuss why you find the idea offensive.
      3. Call-in/call-forth
  1. #assume-good-will – Assume Hanlon’s Razor when listening to other people’s comments.
    • Don’t
      1. Assume that others intend harm.
    • Do
      1. If you find something that someone else says to be offensive, try to understand their position by asking questions.
  1. #neutral-moderator – The moderator is not a participant in discussion (the moderator is typically not the same person as the speaker).