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Handout 1: Guidelines That Promote Multicultural Dialogue
These suggestions are intended to slow down the flurry of assumptions that can come into play when we talk about the stories and truths that shape our lives. Following these guidelines together can help every participant fully engage with others and grow from our interactions. These elements can be incorporated into our group covenant.
- Assume positive intent on the part of fellow participants.
- Ask questions from the standpoint of curiosity, rather than arguing or debating another's point of view.
- Use "I" statements when sharing experiences, feelings, and opinions.
- Withhold unsolicited personal judgments.
- Speak from personal experience; avoid generalizing your experience to include others you perceive to be similar to you.
- Consider the implications of asking People of Color and other people marginalized by race or ethnicity to speak as "experts" on their particular culture, race, or ethnicity.
- Set your own boundaries for personal sharing. Ask yourself, "What parts of my life story am I comfortable sharing?"
- Be willing to examine and grapple with the ways personal assumptions shape your "truths."
- Speak personal "truths" in constructive and civil ways.
- As a speaker, consider how your individual communication style affects others.
- As a listener, be willing to sit with your discomfort with other people's personal "truth(s)."
- Speak personal concerns directly with that person, not about them.
- Recognize that the work we do together is sometimes difficult and that our overall goal is to stay "at the table" together. This will involve taking risks.
- Respect and validate other people's experiences; it is not useful to argue that one oppression is more or less valid or important than another oppression.
- Talking about sessions with nonmembers of the group is okay, but do not share personal content (other than your own stories) with people outside the group.