XR Sheffield: Ways of Working - Summary

Full version (Google docs): XRSheffieldWaysOfWorking

Highlighted text is relevant to issues brought to the Conflict and Resilience Group

XR welcomes all: enabling all to participate

  1. We actively build and maintain a culture which is curious and respectful. We avoid sexism, racism, classism, anti-islamism, anti-semitism, homophobia, transphobia etc. Recognising most of us are learning, we encourage constructive, kind challenge and openness in response. We encourage speaking or writing so it is easy for others to hear and understand.
  2. We look for opportunities to support people who traditionally have had less power in our society, to have more of a say. We support people who are developing as leaders. This includes ensuring our spokespeople are often women / black people and people of colour etc.
  3. Men, keep an eye on how many other men are talking. Make space for people of other genders or backgrounds if it has been an unequal debate. Invite those of other genders (or backgrounds) if they haven’t spoken yet. 

Power and decision making

  1. We work collaboratively. Decisions are made by those with a mandate for that task. We have group agreements Some people may be unable or unwilling to stick to these. In cases of gross or repeated breaches, we may ask them to leave to avoid sapping group energy.
  2. We don’t think all hierarchy is bad.

Listening and Speaking

  1. Really listen: be light on assumptions, actively listen.
  2. LImit how much you say in a group to make room for everyone to participate.
  3. Own your opinions and contributions. “I think we should”, rather than “We need to”

Motivation

  1. Clarify what you want personally from taking part.
  2. Do things you really enjoy. Avoid assuming others will do things for you.
  3. Accept others’ limits. We are all volunteers doing our best.

Be open to inner work. Take self-care seriously

  1. Inner work means processing some of the emotional baggage we carry around, e.g. through peer-to-peer support, therapy.
  2. Self-care may include taking regular breaks, sports, eating well, addressing addictions, exercising, doing yoga or meditation.
  3. These are important - what we are doing together is difficult. We are less likely to burn out or get into conflicts with each other if we are willing to take care of ourselves.

Value honesty, authenticity and sense of connection.

  1. Many of us like hugs. Some don’t. Ask first. OK to say yes. OK to say no.
  2. Celebrate and appreciate yourself and others. Gratitude is positively subversive.

Group working

  1. Take active responsibility for how you work with others: Everyone is crew.
  2. Consult with others as needed and treat other people well.
    1. Join with an intention to work together to get things done. Your ideas and advice will be most helpful if you join with existing group structures and contribute to them.
    2. We’d like our spaces to be places where people feel trusted and supported, even if they don’t always agree with each other.
    3. Don’t blame and shame each other; instead, try to understand each other’s motivations and communicate NonViolently when you feel someone else made a significant mistake.
    4. Avoid “calling people out” harshly in public, meetings, events, online. But it’s OK to correct a mistake (discrimination, silencing) in meetings in a way that doesn’t feel like calling out. Not pointing out harm also harms and means less learning opportunities for the people involved. Consider: What is the most compassionate and just thing to do?
    5. Try to communicate using Nonviolent communication tools (see videos) by sharing what we are observing, feeling, needing and requesting.
    6. Be open & honest, address difficulties directly, use constructive criticism, own your issues. Be solution focused. Encourage and inspire this in others. If you identify a problem, suggest a solution (or three) and ask others what they see.

Commitment and Reliability

  1. Commit the time needed for you to contribute effectively to you groups

    1. The basics take time: keeping up with emails, simple decision making etc..
    2. Ask others to clarify what you are taking on.
    3. Aim to go to at least 75% of your group’s meetings so the group works well.
    4. Be realistic about what you (and XR as a whole) can achieve in the time available
  2. Online

    1. Use XR’s online tools: Basecamp, Google Calendar, Signal, Zoom etc..
    2. Use the most appropriate channel for discussions: email or f2f or WhatsApp or?
    3. Ways of Working applies online too. Communicate mindfully, compassionately and nonviolently.
    4. Respect others’ need for screen-free time.
  3. Commit to doing only what you are willing and able to do.

    1. Be reliable: others’ tasks may depend on yours.
    2. Slow down your “Yes”: Think carefully before taking on yet another task.
    3. Hand over a task if you can’t (or no longer want to) do it. Don’t just drop it.
    4. Have a backup person.
  4. Sometimes lack of follow-through reflects group issues: hurt feelings, unprocessed conflict etc..

    1. If you get stuck on stuff regularly, you might reflect on this and how to address it
    2. If others are getting stuck, they are likely to need support.

Effective meetings

To help make the best use of our time together.

  1. Arrange agendas upfront
  2. Be on time
  3. Agree who is facilitating the meeting and who is taking minutes (i.e. notes)
  4. Start smaller meetings with a check-in.
  5. Delegate lengthy issues to a sub-group to discuss and bring a proposal to the next meeting
  6. Be concise - try to make your point as briefly as possible
  7. Ask yourself “Why am I talking?” Does this need to be discussed/ shared now?
  8. Do time and energy checks and take breaks, especially in long meetings
  9. Review action points from previous meeting(s)
  10. Use silence, mindfulness, meeting end check-out rounds (say briefly what I enjoyed)
  11. Talk one at a time.
  12. Use Group communication signals/hand signals to show the facilitator you have a point to make

Regen Working Group (adopted by XR Sheffield) Dec 2019