Circle process is different from talking in a circle. Three things must be present:
- A circle of at least three people with nothing in between them. Circles should not take place at a table. When people are all at the same level, the space allows for the group to build a container with no barriers to dialogue. The Circle ensures equanimity. There is no hierarchy in a Circle. Even the facilitator is an equal participant whose role is simply to ensure the agreements are kept.
- The Circle facilitator uses a talking piece and questions to guide the conversation. The talking piece typically holds meaning for the facilitator and can be symbolic. It is passed clockwise and must never be passed across the Circle. It passes from hand to hand, which allows people in the Circle to listen deeply to each speaker until the piece comes to them. Often, participants realize that their response to the questions changes significantly after listening to others in the Circle. Participants can pass during a round if they choose.
- Agreements are a set of guidelines agreed to by the participants. Examples include: speak only for yourself, maintain confidentiality, don’t try to fix others. Once participants have had a chance to offer their suggestions and they are written on a piece of paper, the first round of dialogue often asks participants if they can each commit to the Agreements. Agreements can be added or changed, but the Circle does not begin until every person agrees to abide by the Agreements. The facilitator’s primary role is to hold the group to the Agreements and express if they are not being kept. If the Circle begins and a participant refuses to adhere to the Agreements, he or she is asked to step out of the Circle.
Test your knowledge
The elements that are typically present for Circle process are all the following, except: