Circle
practice

Based on ancient practices, the Circle Practice method was lightly formalized by Ann Linnea and Christina Baldwin in 1991, becoming ‘The Circle Way’.

 

You can read more about it, here.

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Why?

Help cultivate community and create a dedicated space for sharing and listening.

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How many people?

 

2 – 10+ people

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How long?

This tool can take as long as you need depending on how long you’re willing to give each person to speak.

Circle practice is ancient, and is practiced by indigenous cultures in different parts of the world.

 

The Circle Practice reminds us that everyone is a leader in their own way, and this is a fantastic way to gather people together and harness a feeling of togetherness.

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Introduction

The three principles, practices, and forms of the circle

  1. Leadership rotates among all circle members.
     

  2. Responsibility is shared for the quality of experience.
     

  3. Reliance is on wholeness, rather than on any one personal agenda.

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Principles

  1. Speak with intention: noting what has relevance to the conversation in the moment.
     

  2. Listen with attention: respectful of the learning process for all members of the group.
     

  3. Tend to the well-being of the circle: remaining aware of the impact of our contributions.

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Practices

  1. Talking point
    This form is often used as a part of a check-in or check-out. It allows participants a short amount of time to talk around one question or theme (e.g. How are you arriving today?).

    Usually, participants speak one after the other going round in the circle. This form slows conversation down and collects all voices and contributions.

  1. tthhtht

  2. Conversation circle
    When you need new ideas, use a conversation circle. This is a free flowing discussion where anyone can interject if they have something to say. Make sure your facilitator is able to keep track of who wants to speak, making sure everyone gets their say.

     

  3. Silent circle
    Participants sit together in a circle and reflect on what has just taken place, or what may need to occur in the coming meeting.

Forms

Ahead of the meeting, you need to:

  • Assign a Host and ensure they keep the conversation going around the circle, keeping to time to allow all voices to be heard.
     

  • Assign a Guardian who should keep the group on topic.
     

  • Keep in mind that sitting in a circle can be daunting for some, try to reassure people that they can say as much or as little as they like, as vague or detailed as they are comfortable with.
     

  • Remember that placing something in the centre of the room can keep people’s attention faced inwards, e.g. a central table with flowers.

  • Set your intention for the meeting. What subject would you like for people to discuss?
     

  • Decide which form of circle you
    will use.

     

  • Think about how many people are attending your meeting. Would it be best to split the group into smaller circles for some parts of the meeting to save time?

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Roles within the circle

  • Host – The Host keeps time and ensures everyone has an equal amount of space in which to speak

  • Guardian – The Guardian monitors the energy of the conversation. If it begins to move away from the group’s intention, the Guardian can signal for everyone to stop and take a breath. They can use a chime or a bell to do this if needed.

During the meeting 

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Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Organise the space into a circle formation allowing everyone in the circle to see one another.

Ask everyone to go round the circle and answer a check-in question. This brings everyone together to be more present in the room.

Begin!

Check out of the session with another question, reflecting on what’s just occurred.

Would you like more detail?

You can read more detailed guidance on the circle practice from The Circle Way, here.

Discover more resources

Where to start

 

The first step in your journey to creating a meeting that matters.

Meeting basics and invitations 

 

How will you hear from a variety of voices?

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