Standards of Ethical Communication and Conflict Resolution
DRAFT presented to the Coalition on August 14, 2014 and to the public on August 20, 2014.
Our objective is to promote the emotional, social, physical and sexual safety of all who identify as LGBTQ, same-sex attracted, ex-gay or gender variant, their partners and their loved ones. We hope to promote this safety by engaging in open, constructive dialogues that directly address areas of conflict in an effort to develop proactive solutions that will improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community. We agree to refer to and abide by these Standards of Ethical Communication and Conflict Resolution as we move forward in this endeavor.
I. Our Fundamental Positions:
- We acknowledge that there has been a history of conflict in religious communities between those who identify as LGBTQ and seek same-sex relationships and those who identify as gay and celibate or ex-gay.
- We acknowledge that the more vulnerable members of our society are often hurt by this conflict.
- We assert that the leaders of these different factions have an ethical responsibility to work to protect those who are more vulnerable.
- We believe that healthy dialogue can help us find ways to work together to heal our society and help protect its more vulnerable members.
- We seek to engage in healing dialogue even when that means we have to talk about difficult subjects and with people with whom we may have past or current disagreements.
- We desire to do what we can to build a stronger, healthier community that is accepting of everyone.
- We agree to foster autonomy, choice, inclusivity, and self-determination. Diversity is the rule.
- We acknowledge that we may not be able to resolve all the problems of the past and choose to focus on our intentions for respectful engagement that can facilitate the processing of finding solutions for the future.
- We agree to accept each other and to refrain from trying to change each other.
- We allow others to change without passing judgment.
- We allow ourselves to change without feeling bad about being inconsistent or weak.
II. Acknowledging and Accepting Differences:
- We acknowledge that others’ perspectives and life experiences are different than our own.
- We choose to believe that others’ perspectives and experiences are valid and that our own perspectives and experiences are valid.
- We acknowledge that different people are inspired by different ideologies, beliefs, and positions.
- We acknowledge that different people are hurt by different ideologies, beliefs, and positions.
- We acknowledge that diversity of perspectives, experiences, ideologies, beliefs, and positions can be s source of strength and can contribute to more creative solutions.
- We choose to be accepting and respectful of ourselves and others regardless of our differences.
III. Speaking Effectively and Respectfully:
- We choose to speak authentically and respectfully.
- We agree to communicate with the intention and openness that others will listen.
- We choose to use language that empowers and inspires rather than criticizes.
- We choose words that are neutral or positive rather than hurtful or negative.
- We agree to use “I” statements rather than “you” statements.
IV. Listening Effectively and Respectfully:
- We work to listen intently when others are speaking.
- We trust that when others are speaking they are not necessarily trying to hurt us, criticize us or change us.
- We strive to put our own agendas and beliefs aside while listening so that we can better hear the messages others are intending to convey.
- When we are unsure of what others mean, we repeat back to them what we have heard and ask follow-up questions giving them an opportunity to clarify.
- We allow for the possibility that we each have blind spots in our understanding of those with whom we disagree and in our understanding of our differences.
- Instead of debating who is right and who is wrong, we strive to be curious and ask questions to understand the history, meanings, purposes, and viewpoints of those with whom we disagree.
- We seek to be aware of when we feel defensive and to try to prevent ourselves from responding with anger or hurt.
- We acknowledge that dialoguing about differences can become heated, despite good intentions, and therefore we agree to forgive and continue dialoguing.
- We agree to take a time out to re-center if needed. The content of the conflict is secondary to establishing safety.
- We agree to respect others’ confidences by not sharing verbal or written personal information that has been entrusted to us privately.
- We are aware that electronic communication is not secure and we agree to minimize our use of platforms such as email and Facebook messaging when we must communicate about confidential matters. We prefer phone conversations or meeting face-to-face, when possible.
- We agree not to forward private emails or texts.
- We agree not to post private emails or texts online.
- We agree not to respond to private emails or private verbal requests in public forums.
- We agree not to make or distribute audio or video recordings of others without their express knowledge and consent.
- We agree to use media to forward our own projects and ideas.
- We agree to use media to assert principles and positions.
- We agree not to use media to criticize organizations or people.
- We agree to be honest when speaking to media.
- We agree to keep private conflicts away from the media.
- We agree to try to resolve conflicts directly through conversation with those with whom we disagree rather than through conversations with the media.
- We maintain an awareness that the media often has an agenda when they seek an interview and remain conscious of how things that might be disclosed to the media may be used in ways that differ from the intentions with which they were shared; therefore, caution should always be maintained when interacting with the media.
VII. Social Media:
- We agree that social media plays an important role in our dialogues.
- We agree that Facebook, Twitter, online discussion forums and blogs are not environments that are always conducive to productive conflict resolution and we seek to use other forums to discuss our disagreements when we find that our online conversations may be more detrimental than productive.
- We agree not to use Facebook, Twitter, online discussion forums and blogs to provocatively call others out by name to respond to disagreements we may have with them. We recognize that this practice harms relationships and hampers conversations that have the potential to help us find solutions that serve the community.
VIII. Taking Responsibility for our Own Negative Emotions:
- We agree to seek to be aware of our own negative emotions.
- We agree that we are each responsible to resolve our own negative emotions to the extent that we are able.
- We agree that it isn’t generally productive to try to get others to take responsibility for our negative emotions.
- However, we seek to establish a safe, trusting environment that allows members of this dialogue process to be open to feedback from others regarding the negative emotions they experience.
- We acknowledge that sometimes others genuinely harm us.
- We agree that seeking to communicate our negative emotions when we have been genuinely harmed and we are not at risk of further harm can be both productive and healthy.
IX. Speaking about Negative Emotions and Harm; The Roles of Professionals and Close Friends:
- We agree that it is appropriate to speak about our negative emotions and harm that has been done to us.
- We agree that it is important to speak about our negative emotions to professionals and close friends who support us before speaking about them to those who may have been involved in harming us.
- We agree that it is important to use discretion when choosing close friends to speak to and to strive to choose friends who are not acquainted with those who may have been involved in harming us.
- We agree that our purpose in speaking to close friends is to find support rather than to malign others.
X. Resolving Interpersonal Disputes:
- We seek to find more common ground and use our skills for collaboration to enhance connection and facilitate mutual needs and goals.
- We seek to blend viewpoints and ideas, rather than eliminate differences.
- We agree to seek to resolve interpersonal disputes privately and with support as needed.
- We agree to seek to resolve interpersonal disputes by speaking directly to those with whom we have disagreements. We use neutral facilitation when needed.
- We agree to not talk to others about our interpersonal disputes for the purpose of defaming or disparaging those with whom we disagree.
- We agree to respond in a timely manner when others come to us with sincere grievances.
- We agree to give credence and attention to those who feel we may have caused them harm.
- We agree to honestly listen to the perspectives of those who feel we may have caused them harm and to honesty seek to understand where they are coming from.
- We acknowledge that we are not obligated to feel responsible for others’ grievances against us and that sometimes others blame when we have no responsibility or culpability.
- We agree to honestly evaluate others’ grievances for the purpose of determining our own responsibility or culpability.
- When we find we may have been responsible for harming others, we agree to honestly admit our wrongs and to seek to apply the new understandings we have gained in an effort to not harm others similarly in the future. We allow ourselves and others to be imperfect, to grow in understanding over time and to continually strive to make improvements without a sense that the self is inherently flawed or wrong. We take action to make personal changes with courage and a desire to serve.
- We embrace optimism and confidence in the possibility of achieving win-win resolutions to our conflicts.
XI. Acknowledging Exceptions:
- We accept and understand that we can not count on others to follow the Standards of Ethical Communication and Conflict Resolution including the dispute resolution standards (Section X) at all times or to honestly seek to participate in dialogues that will lead to win-win solutions.
- When we recognize that we are engaged in a conflict with an individual who is not abiding by these Standards, we agree to make at least 3 private, written requests that the individual abide by these Standards over a period of at least 1 month before resorting to other means of conflict resolution. We recognize that it may be best to make more requests over a longer period of time; we value patience, persistence and meekness.
- After written requests have been administered, if the individual agrees to make the commitment to abide by these Standards and begins demonstrating actions aligned with the standards, we agree not to escalate the conflict.
- After written requests have been administered, if the individual continues to take actions against us that are not in alignment with these Standards, we recognize that the conflict may be outside the realm of the kinds of conflicts these Standards can adequately address and we allow ourselves to take other actions without feeling we have personally violated these Standards.
- We take caution before escalating conflicts and recognize that even when others refuse to abide by these Standards, there may still be better solutions than escalation. We seek to exhaust all other conceivable options before resorting to escalation.
- When escalation occurs out of necessity, if the party with whom we are in conflict de-escalates and returns to adherence to these Standards, we agree to also de-escalate and return to adherence to these standards whenever possible.
Embracing Our Commitment to these Standards
By agreeing to participate in this Coalition, we are pledging our commitment to adhere to the Standards of Ethical Communication and Conflict Resolution elaborated herein. While “to err is human,” we commit to invest the personal energy necessary to maintain the highest possible level of adherence.
We acknowledge that we are of sound mind and that we have entered into this agreement with careful reflection.
David Matheson, Center for Gender Wholeness
Lee Beckstead, APA Task Force, LGBTQ Affirmative Therapists Guild of Utah
Ty Mansfield, North Star
Jim Struve, LGBTQ Affirmative Therapists Guild of Utah
Anne McMullin Peffer, Circling the Wagons