Ground Rules for Ensuring a Civil Conversation

Note to Dialogue Leaders: Before beginning your Dialogue, distribute these ground rules and review them with the students. (Download Ground Rules)

One of the hallmarks of a democracy is its citizens' willingness to express, defend, and perhaps reexamine their own opinions, while being respectful of the views of others. To ensure a civil conversation:

  • Show respect for the views expressed by others, even if you strongly disagree.

  • Be brief in your comments so that all who wish to speak have a chance to express their views.

  • Direct your comments to the group as a whole, rather than to any one individual.

  • Don't let disagreements or conflicting views become personal. Name-calling and shouting are not acceptable ways of conversing with others.

  • Let others express their views without interruption. Your Dialogue leader will try to give everyone a chance to speak or respond to someone else's comments.

  • Remember that a frank exchange of views can be fruitful, so long as you observe the rules of civil conversation.