10 3x2This is part four in a series of posts about The Ideal Problem Solving Tool. In the previous issue we spoke about our approach, the Circle and illustrated the difference between the “conventional” roundtables and our Circle.

Interesting, that the last issue caused an unusually high number of responses, all were very positive but some were fairly skeptical expressing doubts in “magical” transformation in people’s behavior and asked how it can be done.

What can I say? They are correct – there is no magic wand. The magic lies in the well-defined and structured rules with a meticulous following them. It doesn’t not always come easy but the rewards are truly magical. The rules are essential to the Circle methodology. Please read very attentively and many times. And, try and try and try. You will see that this is a truly fulfilling practice.

Before we come to the rules I’d like to point out three guiding principles that form a foundation for the Rules.

The Circle Guiding Principles

  • The opinions of others are exceptionally important to me
  • My opinion is exceptionally important to others
  • There are no contradictions between our opinions 

And now,

The Circle Rules

1. All are equal and very important

In the Circle, no one is more or less important; all are equal and very important. In discussion, we forget about our job titles and work responsibilities and we do not discriminate based on gender, age or other externalities. We sit in the Circle with a clear conscience and open mind: no one is “great” or “small,” here and now everyone is equal.

2. We keep one single topic

To ensure the Circle is effective we pay attention to the discussed topic and never get sidetracked away from it.

3. Everyone takes an active part.

By compelling everyone to share their views we achieve an environment in which everyone “adds” to the mutual solution. By presenting one’s own point of view and connecting it with others’ points of view, each participant begins to better understand others and also him or herself. If someone does not contribute to the discussion, they fail to add an important ingredient to the common platter.

4. Everyone listens to and hears others

In addition to sharing our viewpoints, we also listen attentively to all others without interrupting. And when it comes to listening, we try to not just hear the others but to feel what they are saying. This is of paramount importance for our Circle.

5. Do not argue, criticize or judge

We avoid reacting to or arguing against the opinions of others. Instead, we accept all opinions…no matter how absurd they may seem to you! There are no right or wrong opinions; all of them have the right to exist and to be considered. Try to remember that people in the Circle are making efforts to be honest and there is huge benefit in this. We do not want to discourage them from doing this by judging them in any way. This rule is so important that we would say that keeping it is what makes or breaks the Circle.

6. Speak to the “center of the Circle” only

To help us all focus on the topic and create a unifying atmosphere, we do not enter into dialogue, pose questions to each other or compliment or negate anyone. We do not use phrases like, “I agree with …”, “I like what was said by …”, or “I support …” Each participant should speak without turning personally to anyone, but rather by speaking directly into the “center of the Circle.”

7. Rise above negative sensations.

It is natural to experience feelings of irritation, dislike, a lack of understanding or disagreement when engaging with others. If we experience such feelings in the Circle, we try to overcome them by looking at the issue through the eyes of others. Trying to come out of ourselves we are rising above what divides us to discover what unites us. When we are successful in our attempts we realize that it is precisely such moments that offer the greatest opportunities for mutual advancement and growth.

8. Avoid slogans and clichés, just be honest.

It is important to say only what a person really feels or thinks, without relying on others’ opinions or quoting celebrities or what we may be expected to say. The Circle works best when its participants are sincere. Period.

9. Make decisions collectively

Good decisions come from mutual understanding and connection and must be unanimous. This is something that happens toward the end of the discussion (or series of discussions), when all personal opinions converge into a collective opinion. Only collective decisions have a true and lasting impact. In essence, it’s the power of collective intelligence or the next level of consciousness.

10. Strive to create a space of collaboration, care, trust and harmony

In everything we do, whether speaking or listening to others, we are aiming toward attaining a feeling of participation, care and trust. We aim for this goal. Superior results and solutions will arise naturally once we manage to form the integral field that connects everyone.

You are welcome to download a nicely formatted PDF file with the rules here.

So, try it out and let me know how it works, I’d highly appreciate it.

Good luck!