A sharing circle is a great way to bring your team together, virtually or in person, to share experiences, learn from one other, build empathy, and celebrate!
This is just one suggested format for an hour-long circle, but please modify and make it your own. Here are some helpful guidelines to make sure the circle is a safe, supportive, open place to support healthy dialogue and celebration. Find more ways to celebrate Pride Month with your team
The leader should welcome everyone and remind everyone of the purpose for holding the circle. It would also be good to remind folks to take a look through guidelines as well. Then, pick a light-hearted way to open up the circle and start to get everyone into the mindset of opening up, sharing, and celebrating. Here are a few intro questions you could use for the Pride circle:
If you had to describe your mood today using a color of the rainbow, what would it be?
What song would describe your week so far?
What is your internal weather today? (e.g. cloudy with a bit of sun shining through)
Connect to the moment & center around the purpose (5 min)
After everyone has had the chance to share, take a couple moments to reconnect to the purpose of the circle and ground in the moment. You can do this in a few ways:
Remind everyone of the purpose for gathering, then ask them to close their eyes, take a few deep breaths, feel their feet on the ground, and connect to the moment.
Play a soundbite from a song that represents the feeling you want to create. After the song, ask everyone to reflect for a moment on what that song brings up for them. Perhaps you can find inspiration from
Read a poem or excerpt from someone in the LGBTQIA+ community and allow people to silently reflect.
You can share a few of these questions (no need to include all of them!) with the group for them to think through before the circle, or give them a few minutes during the circle to collect their thoughts. If you have a particularly quiet group or a group of people not used to sharing with one another, you can give everyone a few minutes to write down their thoughts too. Then allow each person in the circle to share without interruption.
What does Pride celebration mean to you?
How have you experienced Pride this year? In years past?
What do you need right now? How can we help support you? What can you do to support yourself?
What does your community need right now? How can we help support that? What is in your power to do for your community?
After everyone who wants to share has the chance to, open up the group to share reactions to other comments. Remind people of the purpose again, encourage “I/me” statements (”In hearing what [other member] shared, I feel....,” “what [other member] shared, effects me in this way...”) and discourage coaching or advising others.
Before officially closing you can choose to do one or a couple of the following (or whatever feels right for your team):
Allow all members to share the one take-away for them
Brainstorm a few ways to follow through with ideas brought up during the meeting.
Reinforce the idea that we’re stronger as a supportive community and together we have the power to drive positive change. Point to a few ways this group can mobilize for change.
In closing, thank everyone for being present, respectful, supportive, and for celebrating Pride!
If you’re using this circle for celebration, some of these may not apply, but it’s helpful to provide guidelines to create an open, safe space for all experiences and stories to be shared. Here are some ideas for guidelines:
Address one another with dignity, respect and maintain an openness to learn from and about one another and allow celebration to be unique to each person.
Practice mindful listening: Try to avoid planning what you’ll say as you listen to others. Be willing to be surprised, to learn something new. Listen with your whole self. Minimize multitasking.
When speaking, substitute “and” for “but.” For example, “yes, and…” This practice acknowledges and honors multiple realities.
Not everyone will be comfortable sharing their own experiences, and everyone is entitled to their privacy. Everything should be optional and make sure to give content warnings before launching into any sensitive topics. Do what you need to do to take care of your own physical and emotional needs, while maintaining respect and safety for others in the Circle.
Unless you have the expressed consent of the group member, anything shared within the group is entitled to confidentiality. If you speak to others about your experience, only talk about what you got out of it, and no specifics or identifiable information about people. (Example: Don’t tell people, “Veronica said she cried three times last week.” Instead, “a few people talked about how they cried multiple times last week and it was really validating for me”).
Be aware of the amount of space you take up. Allow all group members adequate space to contribute and be mindful not to interrupt one another.
Avoid generalizing statements or assumptions about others; speak only from your own experience and perspective. Speak from personal experience (e.g. use “I statements”) and refrain from giving advice unless asked to do so by someone.
Consider the difference between intent and impact. If you harm someone, even if it is unintentional, be willing to apologize authentically, listen, and learn to change your behavior.
If you hear something that has offended you, say “ouch” to demonstrate its impact. Explain why a comment has offended you. Then the person who said the comment has the opportunity to say “oops,” sharing that they made a mistake.
Let’s practice “calling in” not “calling out”- calling in is when you have empathy and respect for someone who may not understand they are currently supporting bias. You find a way of highlighting behavior without adding guilt and shame, which can lead to defensiveness and potentially a lack of growth. If you feel unable to do this, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Circle leader to make sure they know the impact and can help correct the behavior.
Notes for the moderator
Feel free to adapt this format to fit your team. Not every team communicates in the same way, so if you need to extend or reduce a section, allow for more time to collect thoughts, allow responses to spur more people to share, etc, you should do that.
Silence is good. It’s uncomfortable, but maybe set a timer (for yourself only) to allow for a couple minutes to go by. Even a few seconds can feel tough, but if you can wait a couple minutes, it will give people a chance to process and eventually speak up.
You set the tone, but allow for it to shift based on what people are feeling/experiencing/sharing.
Make sure to follow-up with attendees to check-in, set up future meetings, or close out open items.