Extensive experience shows that when groups are kept to a maximum of ten members and all of these agree to a covenant of behavioral ground rules at the start of discussion, a more safe, open, and mutually-attentive environment is created. Thus we strongly encourage beginning every dialogue, class and meeting by establishing such a set of relational agreements among the participants. Here is one you may use or modify: (pdf of below two-up for reproducing)
Relational Agreements for Small Group Dialogues
In order to create an open environment in the group conducive for our purpose of learning about Islam, for deeper spiritual exploration and for developing friendship connections, we agree to do our best to:
1. Assume good intentions.
2. Maintain an open mind.
3. Respect the right to pass. (That is, each of us can opt not to speak or participate in any part of the meeting).
4. Listen deeply and respectfully.
5. Resist the urge to interrupt except for process or clarifying questions.
6. Start and end on time.
7. Seek to move beyond tolerance to understanding of those with different opinions.
8. Respect and not attack people with different views, asking questions to enhance understanding.
9. Share the privilege and responsibility of helping the group to function well.
10. Share the time fairly. Each of us will get the opportunity to speak uninterrupted for a few minutes.
11. Respect anonymity. We agree not to talk outside of the group about someone else’s story using their name or other identifying details.
12. Speak from one’s own experience (use “I” statements).
13. Avoid giving advice. We’re not here to “fix.”
14. Refrain from eye rolling! (or other negative gestures).
Session Plans for Small Group Dialogues:
(Click on titles to download pdf’s for copying.)