1. Participate & Listen – this group will not work without discussion. Your participation is vital. If you have not spoken up for a while, please do so. If you have shared often, please try listening and maybe encourage other men to speak.
2. It’s OK to disagree – but please do it with respect. Diversity, by its nature, simultaneously offers many different states of being. If we are going to grow stronger from our diversity, we will need to trust that our disagreements may be a prelude to learning something new. To wisdom.
3. Try it on – Be willing to try on different ideas, ways of thinking, or being, that you may never have considered before, even if, or perhaps especially, if you have a gut instinct to reject it out of hand.
4. Use “I” statements – Focus on your thoughts and feelings without universalizing them, projecting them onto others or assuming anyone or everyone else’s thoughts and feelings are the same. Use “I” language to share your experiences, perspectives and opinions. Be aware of how you are feeling and ask yourself what your feelings might be telling you. Share your feelings when appropriate.
5. Watch your “BUT” Practice “BOTH/AND” instead —Not every question is “either/or” or has a single “right” answer. The opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth. “But” is a warning that both/and thinking is not being practiced. “But” is generally diminutive not additive. “But” contracts the conversation, while “and” expands the conversation.
6. Avoid shaming, blaming, and attacking yourself or others – This introduces negativity to a group that has already been disproportionally exposed to large amounts of negative messages. It is antithetical to the purpose of this group. While engaging our differences, we want to support and grow from our experiences, no matter what they might be.
7. Be aware of intent & impact — Someone may intend one thing with a comment, but the impact it makes may be quite different. Take responsibility for both parts of the equation. If something impacts you negatively, be willing to get clear as to whether or not that’s what the person who made the comment intended.
8. Keep it confidential – What we share in the group needs to stay in the group. Unless you have asked and received permission from the individual in question, only the person who owns the information, feelings and experiences shared within the group has the right to share such things outside of the group. Notwithstanding this pledge of confidentiality, because there is no guarantee that the pledge will in fact be honored, each of us must take personal responsibility for what we choose to share.