Attendance and behaviour at meetings
Disruptive and abusive behaviour will not be tolerated. Disruptive behaviour includes, but is not limited to, being drunk or under the influence of drugs, and physical intimidation and threats. Abusive behaviour includes, but is not limited to, offensive comments directed at another group member’s racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, social status or political affiliation. Offenders against these rules will be asked to leave the meeting and may be permanently barred from the group.
Be on time. We show a lack of respect by turning up late for the start of sessions and interrupting individuals, who may be already talking in the group. We respect our peers by ensuring we turn up before the start of the sessions and if unavoidably late, quietly and discreetly join the rest of the group.
Switch off mobile phones. We show a lack of respect when we allow our mobile phone to ring during the session and disturb the discussion. We respect our peers by ensuring we switch off our mobile phone prior to the start of the session.
Talking too much
Keep to the point. We show a lack of respect by using the limited time available to talk about our own issues and ignoring the need of others to share theirs too. We respect our peers by keeping to the point in what we say and being aware that others need time to share their issues too.
Wait until the other has finished. We show a lack of respect by talking over people, or interrupting them. We respect our peers by waiting until they have finished, before we respond.
Manage the urge to engage with others, while others speak. We show a lack of respect when we distract others by whispering/talking or signalling to our neighbour, while another is talking to the group. We respect our peers when we use self-control to remain attentive to others who are talking.
Differing points of view
Agree or disagree with ‘points of view’, not people. We show a lack of respect by judging others because of their point of view, rather than just disagreeing with the point of view itself. We respect our peers by agreeing/disagreeing with their views rather than the person themselves. As a diverse group of people, we are much more than a particular point of view, on a particular occasion.
Assume nothing until checking it out first. We show a lack of respect by publicly expressing assumptions about others and their lifestyles that we haven’t verified. We respect our peers by tentatively checking out assumptions first, before publicly expressing them.
The right to hold a point of view
Accept diversity. We show a lack of respect by insisting on repeatedly trying to change another’s point of view just because it differs from our own. We respect our peers when we accept that they are entitled to hold different points of view for our own, even when challenged in a respectful manner. No one individual has a monopoly on ‘truth’ or ‘rightness’ to impose on others.
Impatient and/or bored
Manage feelings of impatience and boredom. We show a lack of respect by expressing obvious signs of impatience and/or boredom when others are talking. We respect our peers when we use our own powers to control these feelings and express them appropriately, assertively and respectfully.
Managing feelings of anger. We show a lack of respect when we work ourselves into a state of annoyance/anger and express it inappropriately through shouting, swearing, making snide remarks, walking out, physically threatening others. We respect our peers by controlling our feelings of anger, calming ourselves down, until we can express it assertively and appropriately with the rest of the group.
Talking outside sessions
Discuss generalities, not specific details. We show a lack of respect by disclosing (without permission), the names and personal details of others outside the group, whether it be partners, friends, acquaintances, etc. We respect our peers by keeping quiet about specific names and personal details of others. However, we can discuss the general content of sessions, points of view and conclusions.
Meeting others outside the sessions
Be discreet. We show a lack of respect by associating others with the group (without prior permission), if meeting them publicly. We respect our peers by being discreet about how we know them, unless specifically okayed by the other.
The ‘voluntary’ email list
Be responsible sending emails. We show a lack of respect by using the email list thoughtlessly, without knowing who else might be accessing it and possibly compromising the confidentiality of others. We respect our peers by accepting responsibility for risking our own details and being careful and discreet about sending emails.
Personal disputes with others
Resolve outside in private. We show a lack of respect by using the sessions as public arenas for resolving personal disputes. We respect our peers by dealing with personal disputes with others outside the sessions and in private.
Follow the agreed complaints procedure. We show a lack of respect by complaining outside the agreed procedures. We respect our peers by ensuring we exercise our right to complain within the agreed procedures.
Our meetings are self-facilitated, with one member acting as lead facilitator and another as co-facilitator. Upon first attending the group, a facilitator will show a copy of the ‘ground rules’ to the new member. At the beginning of each meeting, the lead facilitator will state that the group is governed by the group’s ‘ground rules’. The facilitators will ensure they are used as an instrument to address issues around participant and facilitator behaviour. In exceptional circumstances, facilitators may need to exclude a participant who has broken the ground rules.
When a vacancy becomes available, facilitators are chosen from among regularly attending members by a steering group of members. To become a facilitator, one steering group member must propose and be seconded by one other steering group member. A probation of three months as co-facilitator will follow, whereby the member can expect to receive support and feedback from steering group members.