by Paul Casey

A Good Set of Ground Rules for Your Meetings and Retreats

When I facilitate retreats for organizations and teams, I usually start out by having the group come up with their own ground rules by which to operate with each other throughout the time together. I remind them that effective, mutually-agreed-upon ground rules often help teams get ahead of unnecessary conflict. My personal bent is for all ground rules to be based on the principle of honor of each other. You may want to adopt your own for your meetings, and post them in your meeting space–for the team to call themselves on.

Here are some of the best ones I’ve culminated:

  • Open minds; allow yourself to change your mind
  • Assume positive intent from each participant
  • Actively listen, be curious, validate, and seek first to understand then be understood
  • Tough on ideas, soft on people
  • Everyone participate, no one dominate
  • Focus on people, not phones; choose to be present
  • Respectful words and tone
  • Disagree without being disagreeable
  • Be serious but have fun
  • Think proactive—acknowledge, but don’t dwell on, the past
  • Let go of the outcome; listen for the future to emerge
  • Leave as a united front: said here, stays here
  • Speak your truth without blame or judgment
  • Not “what’s wrong?” but “what’s possible?”
  • What’s one from your team?

Got conflict on your team? Need me to interview the players to find out what’s the root of the problem and how to grow forward? It is a service I offer, and it may push you past the stale mate you are experiencing. Contact me at


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