Have an attitude of pre-validation. In other words, assume that all persons "make sense" and are valid before they speak.
Listeners seek to understand the "sense" that speakers are making and are trying to express.
Speakers share from their personal perspective and don’t assume they are expressing the opinions of anyone else. Use “I” statements and avoid “you” statements.
Facilitators and everyone in attendance encourage all points of view and honor real differences.
Work to shift the tone from "conflict" to "sharing." Saying you want to make an "addition" can be a powerful alternative to debating and win/lose thinking.
Encourage a sense of seeing a larger picture by valuing each person’s contribution to the group consciousness.
Don’t do or say anything you wouldn’t want done or said to you.
It has been helpful, I have found, to encourage anyone who says, “I feel unsafe,” “I feel attacked,” “I feel hurt,” “I feel frustrated,” “I feel worried,” "I feel offended," or “You’re making me feel...,” to continue that sentence with ownership of the internal feelings. I encourage openness to dialogue about the feelings, whether feelings of threat, hurt, frustration, worry, or some other feeling of distress.
I encourage anyone who hears those phrases from another, to shift to the interview mode (reflecting back what was heard along with gentle questioning for the purpose of better understanding). This gentle interview mode is essentially an invitation to the reactive one to share what is going on in them.
I further encourage anyone who hears those phrases to carefully refrain from anything like taking responsibility for the other's reactivity; to avoid saying anything like, “I am sorry,” “I didn't mean that,” “You misunderstand me,” or “There is no need to feel that way,” until long after the reactive person has felt fully validated in their distress.
Adapted by Jim Wells from personal correspondence with Al Turtle www.turtlecouseling.com