by Justine Toms
For the past two or three years we have developed a circle process at work. It has slowly evolved into both a nurturing and productive way of meeting in a business setting.
First we draw a name out of a basket to find who will be facilitating the meeting. This gives an opportunity for each member of the staff to lead the meeting. There are nine of us and we have pushed two large tables together and placed chairs around them forming a big square. This arrangement approximates a circle because we can all see one another and we have a place for writing notes and spreading out our papers. There is no "head" of the table like ones sees in a long boardroom table. Everyone is equal in the seating arrangement.
Our first round is a check-in. This is an opportunity for each of us to share any personal items. For example, Jeffry's father recently died. He was able to share with us how profound this passage this was for him. We could support him and listen with deep affection and caring. Others might share the stress they are feeling because they are overwhelmed with the details of their job. Alerted, the rest of the staff will offer to pitch-in or to rearrange the workload. Overall this has developed into a safe space to speak candidly about what's going on for each of us. What makes it truly work is that we each have permission to make explicate what is implicate. In any office situation everyone feels the tensions, sadness, upsets, and joys of their colleagues. This gives us a forum to lay it on the table so to speak by establishing this safe place to share. My colleagues have become very supportive and compassionate towards one another and I know this circle way has contributed greatly to that process.