What is a Sharing/Talking Circle?
The sharing circle is intended to be a safe place to speak one's mind and heart. A space to be honest and vulnerable; however, it is also a space to only share what one is comfortable with. Traditionally, there is a talking piece/item to pass around; whoever is holding the talking piece speaks, and everyone else in the circle listens. (For Covid-safety, you can use a hand gesture to prompt the person beside you, or in online circles you can use a visual circle of names on a slide.) A talking circle helps us process aloud what we’ve experienced; it allows us to share our thoughts and feelings, to ask questions, and to hear about how others were impacted by the experience or learning.
Introduce yourself when it’s your turn.
Practice active listening. Nod your head, try to make eye contact with the person speaking. Your body language speaks volumes!
Avoid commenting. In a circle, the person whose turn it is is the one who speaks, and everyone else listens. Refrain from commenting on other people's words, just speak for yourself; crosstalk is prohibited. (And don't laugh unless there is an obviously funny remark!)
Follow the Circle direction. If someone breaks the sharing circle by talking out of turn, the facilitator will interrupt and remind that person of the guideline/expectation to honor the person who is currently speaking.
You can pass if you can’t or don’t want to speak. Or, you can also ask the facilitator to come back to you at the end of the circle if you need more time to gather your thoughts
Everything said in the circle is confidential. If you wish to share a story that you heard, ask the sharer's permission.
If time allows, the facilitator may go around the circle multiple times, asking participants to reflect on different questions, as relevant.
Chat Comments (online) - ask yourself if commenting through online chat will redirect the attention of the circle away from the speaker, or respectfully record their wise words.
In respect to Covid-19 and online meetings, create a slide with a circle and write the names around the circle so that folks know when it is their turn!
Read a variety of reflections from folks who've participated in and led talking circles.
- Learning from Indigenous Peoples - Sharing Circles (by Christina DeVries)
- Oh No, I've been invited to a Talking Circle (by Richard Silversmith)
- Talking Circle (by Erin Hansen)
Thank you to Shannon Perez for her work developing these guidelines.