Listening meetings
From: Jim Snyder-Grant (
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 12:30:49 -0600
In an earlier message, I concluded by noting that New View was down to 2 
all-group meetings a month: a decision meeting & a listening meeting. 

I got this note:

>From: [name and address withheld]
>What is a listening meeting?

My Reply:

This is New View's version of what other groups have called a 'sharing  
meeting' or 'third meeting' [I forget what the first two types were..]. 
No decisions allowed. The form is to do lots of listening to each other: 
we are not focussed on back-and-forth or consensus so much as simply 
hearing each other. The purpose is two-fold: to build a sense of 
community by building safety and knowledge about each other; and to have 
background discussions of issues and concerns that we will eventually 
have to make decisions about. They are organized by the process 
committee. Sometimes they have themes or agendas, and may include 
exercises to get people thinking and talking. Sometimes they are open: a 
go-round to find out what's on people's minds, and then the facilitator 
suggests either a theme or topic to to focus on.  

We discussed and agreed on norms at the first listening meeting, 

-no interruptions: one at a time, and include silence.
-respect each other, and respecct yourself.
-Disagreement is fine. Emotion is fine.
-Topics that come up here can be carried on outside the meeting, but no 
talking 'about' someone unless you are willing to say that same thing 
directly to the person: i.e. 'No Gossip'.

I'm doing this from memory, so I have some of this wrong, but you get 
the idea...

We started doing this a few months ago after some crisis dejour. The 
turnout for these meetings is moderate to low, but the feedback we get 
from those attending is that they are working for both purposes of 
community building and supporting the decision-making processes carried 
out at the other meetings.


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