Policy Example: Communications Model

Explanatory Notes and Basic Principles:

• The intent of this document is to outline communication skills that nurture respectful and harmonious communications in day-to-day conversation, meetings, and in circumstances of disagreement or conflict.

• As a community we encourage direct, face-to-face communication based on the belief that this builds connection and enlivens community.

• We acknowledge the diversity of communication styles – such as: assertive, hesitant, passionate emotional display, flat emotional display, detail-focused, emotion-focused. We commit to deepening our understanding of each other, regardless of difference in communication style.

• We acknowledge the diversity of thinking styles – such as: quicker, slower, needing details first, needing to understand the whole first, needing concrete examples or metaphors. We commit to deepening our understanding of and patience with each other regardless of difference in processing style.

• We acknowledge and value the diversity of personal preferences, but when making decisions at community meetings we encourage each other to set aside personal concerns to focus on community concerns and values. In this we recognize that the group is deciding what is best for the community as a whole.

• We aspire to support each person to find ways to express themselves so that their wisdom can contribute to the whole.

• We hope to give and be given a fresh start each day—we learn by making mistakes, and we are learning to live in community.

General Guidelines

1. Respect each person’s individuality:

• Be mindful of different personal communication and processing styles during community processes such as meetings, communications, activities.

• Be open to opportunities for developing more skills in dealing with others, considering individual differences as if they were our own, and resolving conflict creatively & respectfully.

• Listen with attention. Speak with an intention.

2. Speaking:

• Be mindful when you are talking -- are your words, tone, and nonverbal communications congruent & respectful?

• Maintain a kind, non-judgmental, or curious speaking tone

• Maintain confidentiality (see Resolving Issues section for possible exception)

• ask permission before sharing another person’s personal information

• Respond, rather than react, to the greatest extent possible

• Try to be very clear about your intention before speaking, at meetings in particular; are you adding something new, or helpful?

• Express compliments & concerns directly with the person concerned. Refrain from using e-mail to express compliments or criticisms globally

3. Listening:

• Be mindful when you are listening -- is your body language respectful, non-intrusive, and at meetings, is it supporting the card watcher’s and facilitator’s efforts to maintain the speaking order as determined by our card system?

• Attempt to maintain an intention of curious, non-judgmental listening

• Help re-establish respectful communication if gossiping arises in a conversation eg., “I’m not comfortable talking about people that way.”

• Listen non-defensively and look for points of commonality, to the greatest extent possible

4. Requests:

• Remember that the community is here to support you, as you are here to support the community: Ask for what you need & offer what you can

• Be willing to accept “No” when making requests.

• Consider asking, “Is there any other way I can assist you?” if you are unable to meet someone’s specific request.

5. Resolving Issues & Preventing Gossip:

• If you have a concern / issue, deal with it as soon as you are able to do so respectfully:

• If your emotions are “up,” let them settle before you decide to talk with the person.

• Refer to Creekside’s statement of Community Intention and Values to get grounded before you speak with the person.

• If it’s necessary to talk with someone else about your concern, do so with the intention to get assistance to resolve the problem, rather than to gossip or complain.

• Use “I” statements. If you are talking with someone else about a concern, talk about yourself; e.g., “I’m feeling upset about (specify issue rather than person) would you be willing to help me to deal with my feelings around this.”

• If you go to the person with whom you have a concern, your first contact with the person should be to arrange a mutually agreed upon time to discuss the concern.

• Be willing to listen to another’s concern even when the concern is your behaviour if it is perceived as compromising our Community statement of values/living in community guidelines.

• If issues cannot be resolved with the individual through discussion, use the Conflict Resolution Process.