Group “Discomfort” Agreement

IPS encourages the use of ‘Discomfort’ Agreements, moreso that ‘Comfort’ Agreements. This is because learning new things is often uncomfortable. New learning usually requires sincere effort and a willingness to stretch beyond the known into the unknown. The IPS Discomfort Agreement acknowledges this challenge, as well as the temptation to quit when the going gets rough. the Discomfort Agreement thus supports us to stay with the process by helping us to think, intentionally, ahead of time, about the kind of environment we want to create in order to support and facilitate new learning.

Here’s our working Discomfort Agreement for the Saturday Group on Zoom:

One person talk at a time.
Offer respect and dignity.
Listen to understand and relate rather than to help or convert others.
Participate to the level of your comfort (self-care).
Keep the focus on learning and practicing Intentional Peer Support.
Maintain a non-judgmental atmosphere.
Don’t make assumptions or put words in people’s mouths. Instead: ask, reality check, validate.
There is no right or wrong here in the sense that sincere discussion and questions are welcomed. However, apparent power imbalances, unfairness or nonconsensual treatment of others can and should be respectfully questioned.
When controversy arises, explore differing viewpoints with curiosity about the personal experiences that led others to see things the way they currently do.
Work to transcend disagreement by learning about the realities of others and finding points of connection.
Being respectful of modalities that others find useful and refrain from promoting or denigrating specific approaches.
Stay away from debates about pharmaceuticals, healthcare or politics.
At a minimum: agree to disagree
“Stretch”: Step up if you tend to stay in the background, step back if you tend to take up a lot of space.
“Ouch”: If it hurts say so.
Be conscious of how you use power or privilege, as well as open to hearing from others about how they may experience you using it.
Use power to support and grow relationships rather than to gain personal advantage or prestige.
Don’t scapegoat or marginalize anyone.
Promote equality, fairness and understanding.
Reach out to include others who may have less power or privilege than you have.
Some here may prefer to type in the chat box instead of speak out loud. You can access the chat box from the control panel at the top or bottom of your screen. If you don’t want your comments read out loud, please let us know. Otherwise, we try to read them in real time so they can be part of the conversation. Everyone is encouraged to pay attention to typed comments and read them.
A major purpose of this group is to encourage conversation, create space for diverse viewpoints, and make sure everyone has a chance to speak. If you have something to say and someone else is speaking, please raise your hand. Other members are encouraged to notice to when someone has their hand raised and call attention to that in a sensitive way if the speaker doesn’t seem to notice. Group members are encouraged to bring bells or musical instruments and use them for this purpose if the someone has gone on for several minutes.
We recognize that there are times if life where any one of us might feel the need to speak at length about matters that concern us. If that appears to be the case, anyone may request or suggest a breakout room where two or more members can have a private conversation. Alternatively, anyone may request or suggest that a particular issue be discussed further after the formal group meeting.
Moderation of the group is shared by group members. At the end of each group we ask for a volunteer to moderate for the upcoming session. If that person is able to make it, we ask for volunteer to moderate when the next session starts. Those new to moderation are encouraged to try their hand at moderating once they become familiar with the group process. All group members are encouraged to use the peer support skills we are learning to support the moderator or to respectfully share needs or concerns that seem important to them.