The key to any productive public, civil conversation is ensuring all participants follow a set of expectations and norms. As the program planner, you can certainly set some norms ahead of time, but you may also allow for time at your events for participants and the audience to work together to set a list of agreed upon norms.
This list of suggested norms can help keep your conversation civil and meaningful. You should tailor the specific norms for your conversation to meet the needs of your community and objectives.
- Show respect for the views expressed by others, even if you strongly disagree.
- Keep comments brief and on point so that all who wish to participate in the conversation have a chance to do so.
- 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. Facilitators and moderators should seek to give everyone a chance to speak or respond to someone else’s comments.
- Remember that a frank exchange of views can be fruitful as long as you observe the rules of civil conversation.