The 6 Agreements serve as a social architecture to invite wisdom through dialog and conversation. You can download a pdf version here.
1. A deep full breath before speaking
This breath has many virtues. It helps participants to let go of their selfish urge to keep a grasp on the conversation. They can surrender to what emerges from the center. Participants offer time to themselves to observe their inner processes. What someone just said becomes deeply listened to and ‘breathed in.’ Participants move from reaction (responding, taking the floor) to creation (inviting creativity through emergence). Interestingly, each time one speaks right after someone else, leaving no space for breathing and creativity, the lower self (automated pilot) takes control.
2. Listen to the center
By center, we mean the physical center of a group in circle, or the experienced center in a global collective. Listen to the will that tries to manifest from the heart of the group. Give voice to it. This special mode of listening and voicing connects us to others and builds a sense of unity.
3. Speak to the center
Speak to the center rather than to a particular person. Participants agree not to engage in one-to-one conversations in the midst of the collective process. Although speaking and listening to the center may feel a little artificial at first, it allows the emergence of the whole and helps shift the whole dynamic of the group into a transpersonal context.
4. Don’t take the floor, have it offered
Because time feels scarce, participants want to use this resource wisely and moderately. Notice that in groups where people interrupt one another or respond without leaving space, humans grab time the same way predators grab their prey in the wild―the strongest, the most agile, the fastest, the craftiest get the better share. Having the floor offered brings us in a gift economy, just like when we seat around a table with kindly served and shared dishes. It creates an entirely new, benevolent group dynamic.
5. Speak from direct personal experience
Sharing personal experience invites boldness, vulnerability, trust and compassionate relationships. When a person speaks theoretically he/she separates himself/herself from the original experience, and places a barrier between him/her and the others. Here we check whether what we want to say imposes a generality on others, or if it might hide some personal story. Stories have the virtue of myths―they carry emotions, multilevel life experiences, cosmologies and vibrations―a much richer universe for a group to share.
6. Invite silence
Any participant can ask for silence at any moment. Conversation gets immediately suspended and everyone enters into silence for one minute. It offers the space to explore the current context at a deeper level, name our experience, explore our emotions, needs, sense of emergence in the group, etc. After this silent breathing space, the person who asked for the silence can decide –or not– to explain why he/she invited it. Conversation can then resume, likely filled with a new dimension.
Thank you for this 6 agreements, Jean François. I remembered having read them in one of your sites but couldn’t find them back. I use them as much as I can in meetings within my company.
Listen and speak to the center are especially useful.
And Speak From Direct Experience is may be the most difficult to enforce, especially for me who is so found of theories ! (and of Ken Wilber that you make me discover – thanks for that also)
My pleasure Gilles. I feel honored by your experience and acknowledgment. I would love to hear more from you about the impacts and results it provokes in your company, as well as the edges and breakthroughs.
Let me know if you need any support.
How does one participate at this level with a board chairperson that is a complete bully?
Well, I guess the answer to your question relies in the title: “agreements”. If someone doesn’t want to agree, no one can force them — unless you use torture or blackmail 🙂 .
However I would advice that you first integrate fully these agreements and apply them in most occasion in your life. After some practice you will see how people start to change their behavior when someone around them breathes, listens to the center, speaks from direct experience, and never interrupts. You may end up staying silent all the time, which will lead you to some generative questions:
* If the person(s) don’t offer you a space to speak, do they really need you?
* Should you attend this conversation?
* What have you learned while remaining silent? What experience did you get?
Don’t hesitate to share more feedback when you have.
The 6 agreements http://t.co/4pQKgWIs0S via @jfnoubel
@shareski I understand. Perhaps what we need is better discipline when it comes to conversation Something along like http://t.co/kkXwYtRpXE
[…] the moments of conversation, I will use the 6 agreements as our social architecture. Read them before […]
I love this.
I see also this as something that I need not so much agree on with others, nut mostly intend to practise, no matter what.
Thank you Harry for sharing. Yes, practice will make the whole difference. It has shifted my whole reality.
Merveilleux! It’s wonderful to come across a vintage post that leads to deeper breaths and a calmer poise (whether in a board meeting or when, as now, I’m conversing only with my laptop and a cinnamon bun). Merci!
My pleasure! Thank you so much for your feedback.