Our goals are to:
- Foster an atmosphere in which all participants can contribute to their fullest without feeling inhibited, intimidated, embarrassed or belittled.
- Foster confidence, self respect and feelings of being valued.
- Further develop a model of discussion where differences of opinion are expressed through constructive discussions that lead us all to a higher level of understanding.
Underpinning all of these is an understanding that:
- The way we treat each other now is the model for the type of society we want to see in Scotland in the future.
- No one has a monopoly on having ‘the right answer’.
- The ‘right answer’ today may not be the best for tomorrow.
To this end we do not tolerate behaviours that are counter to these goals. Rather than exhaustively list all possible types of ‘proscribed’ behaviours we would, in the first instance, put the responsibility on to each individual to consider the effect of their behaviour, or intended behaviour, with respect to the stated goals.
Secondly, in the event that any member feels negatively (hurt, embarrassed, insulted, etc.) they do have a responsibility to speak either directly to the member causing that feeling, or to another member, as they see fit. A sincere apology and an assurance that the offending behaviour will not be repeated should be forthcoming.
It goes almost without saying that aggression, whether physical, sexual or verbally threatening, will lead to suspension or termination of participation, and the victim in these cases would not be expected to have to address the perpetrator. When such serious accusations are made, the accused will be suspended from participation.
Insults, personal comments, turns of phrase, use of tone of voice and facial and bodily gestures designed to undermine or intimidate, including e.g. misogynistic, ableist, homophobic, or transphobic comments, are unacceptable. It is firstly the job of the chair to ensure that such behaviour is challenged and secondly the job of those attending, although any individual who feels they have been subject to such behaviour also has the right to appeal to the chair or to the others attending.
Deliberate misrepresentation of another’s points is inconsistent with our goals. In the case of meetings it is firstly the job of the chair to ensure that such behaviour is challenged, secondly the job of those attending. Any individual who feels they have been subject to such behaviour also has the right to appeal to the chair, or to others attending as appropriate.
Frequent and/or lengthy contributions to discussions or ignoring the agenda item under discussion are frustrating to others and are inconsiderate. It is the job of the chair to ensure that members’ contributions are kept to appropriate time limits, and that someone indicating they wish to enter the discussion is taken before the re-entry of someone who has already spoken.
In conclusion, rather than tying ourselves up with lists of rigid rules, we want to emphasise what constitutes considerate conduct between ourselves and promote a sense of responsibility toward each other.