Sharing and modeling the Code of Conduct and Timeout process as means of reinforcing individual agency and active accountability within our group settings
We live in a society where some people still hold and practice the belief that it’s “better to ask forgiveness than permission.” This approach is also a reaction to previous academic philosophies that reduced people’s agency in favour of the school or facilitator. Until that changes, we are reinforcing consent in how we engage with each other.
Our Code of Conduct is a good foundation for reinforcing our commitment to embracing big societal boundaries while in group settings -- specifically respecting legal and societally held protection for our identities.
As the facilitator, how you share the Code of Conduct informs people to what extent you will hold people accountable for transgressions. If you are unsure how your tone is being received, reflect on past workshops and whether any gray area content went uninterrupted; and if so, how often. If you haven’t taken an Implicit Bias workshop recently, consider this training as well.
As facilitators, we reinforce holding a consent informed space by making time to confirm everyone's name pronunciation. Letting people correct your pronunciation, without making excuses, nor creating nicknames or avoiding using their name, is modeling being accountable for your mistake, apologizing and correcting it.
Requesting pronouns respects the individual's gender identity (including agender), helps everyone unlearn the colonial presumption of binary genders, and unlinks gender expression from identity.
On the other side, not everyone is comfortable sharing this information — not every culture or language focuses on this aspect of personhood.
The intention is to respect people's preferences in how they are addressed without subjecting them to further interrogation.
If this is new territory for you, there are online resources and training available to navigate this space.
Speaking up about our needs, and being heard and respected for doing so, empowers us to speak up about our ideas, making it easier to explore new concepts and skills and maintain agency within the shared exploration space.
Content boundaries address more nuanced topics than the Code of Conduct covers. They are another layer to the social contract we are engaging to allow for the greatest number of people to express themselves
The facilitator models sharing a content boundary before passing it around the group. “My content boundary today is ___.” Some boundaries are temporary -- reflecting a recent lived experience, societal (e.g., police brutality), or reactive to other group settings where boundaries were not respected.
It is equally acceptable for someone to state “no content boundaries today.”
Once we’ve gone around the circle to hear from everyone, the facilitator repeats the content boundaries and acknowledges who holds them. In virtual workshops, the list is copied into the chat.
Asking for content boundaries in the beginning of the workshop reinforces consent, acknowledges things change over time, and minimizes accidental boundary crossing. However, some boundaries are only discovered in the moment.