Target audience : Any audience willing to engage in participatory learning processes, e.g., grassroots-level groups/faith communities, civil society organisations, human rights defenders and faith leaders. An alternative methodology for more formal or academic training settings is provided.
To establish ground rules for the training. These are important to create a safe space with common expectations about how participants will talk and listen to one another.
A simple participatory exercise allowing participants to contribute ground rules anonymously. This is particularly well-suited to groups who don’t know each other or have significant power dynamics, for example due to gender, minority-majority status or the participation of leadership figures e.g., religious leaders or managers.
Small slips of paper.
A pen for each participant.
Flipchart sheets and marker pens.
Explain the following:
During this training, we want everyone to feel safe and respected – to have an opportunity to speak and to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences on an equal footing. To help create that environment, it is useful to have some ground rules that we all agree on and can hold each other to. These ground rules can be practical (like come on time, phones on silent, laptops closed) or be about how we relate to each other (like listen respectfully or give everyone a chance to speak).
Put a basket in the middle of the circle. Give everyone a slip of paper and pen. Ask each person to write two ground rules that they think the group should have on their paper and put it in the basket. Read out all the ideas from the basket and write them up on a flipchart sheet. If need be, add any important missing points at the end, saying ‘What about…?’ ‘What if…?’.
Listen actively – respect others when they are talking.
Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing (say “I” instead of “they,” “we,” and “you”).
Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions but refrain from personal attacks – focus on ideas.
And where appropriate:
Confidentiality – what is said in the room stays in the room (Chatham House rules).
Ask if everyone agrees to the ground rules as they are or would like to change or clarify anything. Seek consensus before finalising the list. Keep the ground rules displayed for the duration of the training and refer to them when needed. If participants have some prior knowledge of the human rights framework, conclude the exercise by drawing links between the basic human rights principle of accountability and the ground rules.
In more formal settings, run this as an open brainstorm session instead of using a basket. Ask for participants’ help to get the right formulation as you write up the ground rules on the flipchart sheet. Try to involve as many participants as possible.
TIP! Allow for silence if the participants need time to think. Resist the temptation to jump in!