Council is a session for a group that fosters open dialogue, honesty, and attentive listening. Council is a way to build and sustain communities based on authenticity, honesty, and empathy. It may also be used to provide healing and closure after a difficult group experience.
What does council look like?
- Participants gather and sit in a circle.
- A talking piece is used to make sure everyone has uninterrupted time to speak.
- The facilitator usually begins with a short story or poem to open the space and ease into the process.
- The facilitator then poses a question and each participant has the opportunity to respond to the question as the talking piece is passed around the circle. This is repeated until the relevant topics have been explored.
- Once the facilitator then closes the circle, it is optional but common for participants to gather for a meal together.
The Four Intentions of Council
Speak from the heart: Participants are asked to speak from their own lived experience and you use “I” statements whenever possible.
Listen from the heart: The success of the Council is largely determined by the quality of the listening. Listening from the heart should be energizing; if you find yourself growing restless or bored you are probably not listening devoutly.
Be of lean expression (be brief): Participants should be genuine, but the goal is for all members to have shared airtime. We also know that most people’s attention span is less than two minutes, so reciting a monologue is not effective.
Be spontaneous: Participants are encouraged to not rehearse what is to be said. Trying to plan what you’re going to say while others are speaking minimizes your ability to listen (and others’ ability to speak) from the heart. Trust that you will say exactly and uniquely what the circle needs to hear from you in that moment.
Council has been used both preventatively and reactively. Some student groups open and close the year by participating in council to build rapport and create connection as a cohesive group. Other groups have participated in council after a conflict or difficult experience to provide a safe space for participants to share their thoughts and feelings and provide closure to the experience.
Council is a challenge by choice activity. During the experience each participant has the opportunity to “pass” rather than respond to a question.
All of our conflict resolution services are completely optional. Each party always has the option not to participate.
Privacy is a crucial component of the OSCCR. All information shared through mediation or other conflict resolution services will be kept private, with two exceptions: 1) If there is mention of a serious violation of the Community Standards or law, a staff member would be required to act upon this information as appropriate and to ensure the safety of the community. 2) If a staff member becomes aware that someone may be in danger of serious, imminent harm, they would be required to address the situation as appropriate to ensure the safety of the community.