Gestalt Protocol comes from Gestalt psychology. Practicing this protocol is a discipline that has far-reaching effects on the quality, operation and value derived from a Forum group. The seven points of the protocol are difficult to absorb and practice for new Forum groups. They are however a key component in creating a safe environment where members will feel comfortable sharing openly. Because this protocol can be difficult, we recommend that new groups focus on numbers 1, 2 and 5 in that order of priority.
- Speak from your own experience rather than give advice.
- Use “I” statements not “one” or “you,” but “I.”
- Speak in specifics not generalities. If I were to say, “all men are workaholics” that would be a generality. Instead if I were to say, “my dad and my partner are workaholics” that would be specific.
- Ask “How” not “Why” to prevent defensiveness. If I were to say “Why didn’t you fire your bookkeeper when you found out he was steeling from you?” that maybe attacking. Instead if I were to say, “How did you come to the decision as to whether or not you should fire your bookkeeper.”
- Make a statement to declare your position before you ask a question.
- Say, “I feel” to mean real feelings like sad, mad or glad, rather that saying “I feel you are.” Forum is a uniquely personal experience where emotions are as important to the process as the facts. By asking someone how do you feel, we attempt to evoke the emotions in the person that are perpetuated by the situation. Using feel in the right context will allow for deeper presentations.
- Replace “I don’t know” with “I won’t decide” or “I don’t want to say.”