In the last few days of the Sandbox Today Chat we sadly witnessed many people feeling not heard, attacked and triggered.
As a reaction we paused the Today chat and a group formed to come up with some Agreements to help us navigate the sometimes difficult waters of our community to create a place to feel safe.
Based on some work done previously in Sandbox and our collective effort we have come up with a few guidelines on how we can relate to each other via text in a way that feels meaningful and constructive. All of this is of course a work in progress and open for feedback and improvement we do hope it helps for now.
- Prepare with compassion. For yourself and for others, we want the best for each other.
- Trust in good intentions. Those of other people and the group.
- Respond with curiosity. First, ask to understand the other’s perspective rather than judging it.
- Think about your contribution to the whole community. If you want the whole group to benefit, how would you conduct this conversation?
- Your contribution and opinion matter, own them. We want you to speak up and tell us about your perspective, not the objective truth that remains inaccessible to all of us. Tell us what matters to you and why. Give us reasons so we can understand you.
- Ask for what you need. What can we do to improve communication or mitigate the issue? We might say ‘No’, but most of the time most people are happy to help.
- Commit to closure through understanding. Adding a message to a tense exchange of texts is easy, resolving it is not. When you add to a conversation, commit to sticking around until you understand where the other party is coming from. Agreeing or agreeing to disagree are both valid outcomes, make sure that you first inquired and understood.
- Own your own emotions. Notice your own triggers. Tease apart what is yours and what is theirs. When an exchange is tense, try to see what part of that tension is your reading more than what you’re seeing.
- Use the smallest arena possible. Whenever possible, take your conversation to a smaller arena then the central WhatsApp group. 150 people here being pinged with every message..
- Offline, video, voice are all better than text. Especially for tense conversations. Consider meeting in person or getting a room. A video call room, obviously.
- Conflict is ok. We need to allow for enough of it. Otherwise, we can’t learn and evolve.
- It is ok if some of us don't like each other.
- We all have different narratives. And we do our best to gracefully accept that not everybody shares our own, we try to expand our mind and heart to accommodate conflicts and contradictions.
- This is an experiment. We are figuring out what works for us as we do this together. That is why each of our opinions matter - if it doesn't work for you, maybe it doesn't work for other people too. Speak up and share your perspective.
- With all our proposals for what to do, we care about keeping them simple enough to try.
- Relating is challenging. We will step on each other’s toes. What we care about is learning more about each other as we step on each other’s toes and working through toe-stepping in good ways.
- Ask yourself: What GIF would deescalate or lighten up the conversation?
- Get a room. Two reasons for that. It is easier to understand each other when you add voice, image, shared location to the mix. And the rest of the WhatsApp group gets fewer messages and can go on with their day.
- Ask for what you need.
- Send a short video response when what you send might add emotion to the conversation. When you send something that might have an emotional impact, have the heart to show your face and voice. This diffuses tension by adding voice and image and helps you see each other as people, not chatbots.
- Ask someone neutral to talk things through with you and figure out what it is that you mean to say.
- Non-Violent Communication - tell us how you feel
- Difficult Conversations Framework
When do we feel safe?
- When our togetherness feels intimate, but not oppressive.
- When we can show up messy and open without feeling we endanger our relationship or will be judged in a hurtful manner.
- Where we trust each other's good intentions.
- Where I can take off my mask and feel what is true for me.
- In a space that can hold tension. That does not always feel warm and fuzzy but tense at times. A brave space, not just a safe space.
- Where we are accountable to each other for what we share with each other. Where you can say anything and will get feedback by the rest in a manner that you can work through together.
- This is often particularly challenging to trust in for people who enter a group anew and do not yet know how everyone else tends to relate with each other.
- Where I can share what is difficult to raise and am met with curiosity, with acceptance.