Why Circles ~ Learning to Listen Together
Do Try This at Home!
Tips For Council, by Kate Lipkis, www.councilheart.com
- Remember these intentions. They’re not rules. They’re just reminders of behaviors we intend to get better at as we sit in more circles together.
- Listen from the heart – suspend reactions, judgments and preconceptions.
- Speak from the heart – with care and consideration for others in the circle.
- Speak spontaneously – and only when you have the talking piece; let go of planning.
- Speak leanly – with an awareness of time and the size of the circle, so that everyone gets a chance to participate.
- Finally… Keep confidence. Don’t tell any story except your own. Most people will not appreciate your raining an issue outside of Council that they brought us during Council. “When it’s done, it’s done."
- Don’t wait until “you need to have a council.” Sit regularly with your family, each week or once a month with no agenda. Just check in and see what wants to be said. The pressure’s off and council becomes something to look forward to rather than a place to air grievances.
- Mind the thresholds. Always “open” with a dedication as you use a bell or shaker, or pout water or light a candle. Always use a talking piece to indicate that just one person speaks at a time. Never leave the circle without closing with a hand squeeze, a simultaneous clap, a passed action or gesture, or blowing out the candle together.
- Have fun with council! Turn to the person on your left and make a funny face. Ask that person to mirror your funny face. Once it feels like a mirror to you, have that person drop that face and turn to their left and make another, different funny face to be mirrored – and so on around the circle back to you as you get to morrow the face of the person to your right. Thank Pass the Face activity is difficult to do if you’re made at someone!
- Encourage stories about ancestors or family or childhood or past experiences and let the circle hold the story without the need for anyone to response. Most times, whether stories are good or bad, heavy or light, we all just need to be heard.
- Use council to discover what’s worked for others in certain situations. When xxx has happened to you, what did you do? A best practices council is often a preferred way to give or receive advice on resilience, handing anger, having fun with kids, where to go on vacation, etc.
- You don’t need to know what the theme is when you call a council. Begin with a favorite poem or quote or a news article or a song and then check in by simply asking what story this offering evokes for those in the circle.
- Stories switch on our brains. Unasked for advice or opinions turn us off. What experience drew you to have this opinion? Keep the opinion. Share the story only. As one elder of this practice expresses it: Opinion is story robbed of the narrative.