Conversation Norms for Be The Bridge Groups

A simple guide that helps us honor, respect, and edify our brothers and sisters during conversation.

Be the Bridge Conversation Norms

The following conversation norms have been identified by the facilitators of Be the Bridge as means of designing our time together to be intentional, focused and inclusive. While each group is welcome to include additional norms and community agreements as they see fit, the identified norms below will serve as foundational starting points. In other words, we will only add to this list, rather than subtract.

1. We will honor the ability for all participants to speak in draft and take responsibility for our words and their impact.

We can’t be articulate 100% of the time - as much as we may wish we could! Sometimes, we can feel hesitant to participate in a workshop or meeting for fear of “messing up” or stumbling over our words. We want everyone to feel comfortable participating, even if you don’t feel you have the perfect words to express your thoughts. At the same time, while we may not intend to, sometimes our words can have an impact on others. Therefore, while we will extend grace to one another when “mess-ups” happen, we will also take into consideration how our language can affect others. In this way, we can learn to better hear and see one another through a lens of grace and dignity, rather than shame.

2.We will use the guiding engagement framework of move up, move up in our conversations.

If you’re someone who tends to not speak a lot, please move up into a role of speaking more. If you tend to speak a lot, please move up into a role of listening more. This is a twist on the more commonly heard “step up, step back.” The “up/up” confirms that in both experiences, growth is happening.

3. We value consent and whether or not community members want to share. (We value whether or not you want to share).

Be the Bridge will be highly interactive between participants and the facilitators. However, we will honor your choice as to whether or not you want to share as you feel led.

4. We will honor confidentiality and not share stories of others without their consent.

In other words, the “Vegas rule” - what happens in the group stays in the group.

5. We will aim to be fully present during our time together.

We like to call this one “low-tech, high-engagement” though in the times of COVID-19, this term may not be the perfect fit. Given that this is not only an opportunity for learning but also building relationships with one another, we invite participants to be fully present during our sessions.

6. We will honor start and end times.

We believe this one is pretty straightforward. We will invite participants to arrive on time and commit to the time we have carved out for our discussion. There may be moments when the conversation is flowing organically and we want to go a bit longer - while we will welcome this as a means of deepening relationships with one another, we will honor those that are unable to stay due to other commitments after the designated end time.

*Credit: Some of the language for these conversation norms have been sourced from the AORTA Collective.