“How can I introduce circle process to my [name of group here]?” is a question people ask me. Whether it’s a family gathering, business meeting, book study circle, spiritual group, not-for-profit organisation, or whatever, don’t try to pull out all the stops when it comes to introducing the use of circle as a way to communicate. Some might get it, but most will glaze over or run for the hills.
The one piece of circle process that is an excellent introduction to this way of being together is check-in. A check-in is a brief round of hearing how each person is as they enter the meeting or gathering. In anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes each, every person has the opportunity to express, without interruption, what’s on hir mind, how s/he is feeling, the latest personal news, what s/he hopes to get out of the gathering, or what s/he is able (or not able) to contribute to the meeting.
Checking in helps us to be present and to witness our peers as real humans, not just talking heads in a chair. If I know that Joe has been in negotiation with his ex-wife all week, I can better understand why his piece of the project could use a couple of more days of work. If Maureen feels celebratory because she’s found a new spiritual community, I can find a happier piece of myself as we meet. If, during my turn in check-in, I tell people that I’m immersed in a particular book, they can get a sense of where some of my vocabulary that day is coming from.
So, if you use no other aspect of circle work, at least do check-in. You’ll find that the gathering is more focused, people are more accepting, and everyone is more grounded.