3Practice Circles : One Shape . Lots of Flavors

3Practice Circles come in lots of flavors

Difference Circles

Discovery Circles

Decision Circles 

Story Circles

Cultural Catalyst Circles

Scroll down for a little taste.

3Practice Difference Circle

3Practice Difference Circles generate clarity between folks who disagree.

Do people change their minds? Rarely. But if someone’s mind isn’t already made up, anyone in the Circle has a shot at convincing them.

And clarity is its own reward. When we come to see people who disagree with us each other more clearly, we can decide whether they're a threat or merely a nuisance. Getting clear about that helps us decide how we’ll treat each other in real life.

In Difference Circles we practice staying in the room with difference and not comparing our best with other’s worst.

Difference Circle Examples:

"Who are 'they' and what are you afraid they’d do if they thought they could get away with it?"

"Is racism as American as apple pie?"

3Practice Discovery Circles

3Practice Discovery Circles help people understand each other.

3Practice Discovery Circles create space for understanding that sometimes we see things differently — and sometimes we see different things.

In Discovery Circles we practice being unusually interesting in the other.

Discovery Circle Examples:

"Why can’t we talk to each other?"

"When did someone convince you to think differently?"


3Practice Decision Circles

3Practice Decision Circles increase the depth and breadth of organizational intelligence.

3Practice Decision Circles get at the sort organizational intelligence that’s often obscured by group-think, mission drift, bad or incomplete information, irrelevant power struggles, and other blind spots.

Decision Circle Examples:

"If we had to decide today..."

"If I were in charge..."

3Practice Story Circles

3Practice Story Circles are storytelling as a team sport.

[This is a somewhat longer description, so grab a beverage...]

Every good story turns on a moment that veers off in an unexpected direction ... or lands precisely where it seemed to be going, but in a surprising way or with unexpected results. That's called The Twist

Sometimes The Twist comes in the setup ... sometimes it signals an unexpected turn ... sometimes it's the punchline ... maybe it's the moral of the story.

In 3Practice Story Circles, the referees decide what The Twist will be.

Where The Twist appears in the narrative is entirely up to the storyteller.


3Practice Story Circle stories should be original and true — telling your story, not someone else's ... though your reaction to some else's experience is 100% fair play.

Stories should not rely on comparing your best with someone else's worst — if there's a villain, think twice about painting them as bad as they could possibly be and yourself as good as you could possibly be ... ditto, if you are the villain in your story.

Funny is fine. Dramatic is fine. Preachy is … preachy…. Ask yourself: "Do I trust people to figure out the moral of the story, or am I attempting to disguise moralizing by dressing it up as a story?" 

Stories may be up to two minutes long. The Referee helps with timing.

Following the story, anyone may ask a clarifying question beginning with "I'd be curious to know." The Referee helps people find their question as needed.

NOTE: Most 3Practice Circles are built on personal opinions … 3Practice Story Circles are built on personal stories. Which puts a special burden on all of us to protect each other’s dignity and privacy. That doesn’t mean we can’t ask clarifying questions — it means we’re not entitled to every detail we might like to have. It also means we don’t get to repeat people’s stories without permission … treat what you hear as personal and privileged communication among friends. 

The Storyteller takes up to a minute to respond to each question.

The Referee decides when to call on a new storyteller.

The hour concludes with thank-yous.

That’s it. Just like other 3Practice Circle … but, you know, different.

Story Circle Twist Examples:

"That’s when I quit..."

"Obviously, we had a problem..."

Here’s Fred Lynch's round in a 3Practice Story Circle with the Twist: This is when I knew my race matters.



3Practice Cultural Catalyst Circles

3Practice Cultural Catalyst Circles explore provocative points of view expressed in the public square.

3Practice Cultural Catalyst Circles create space for reactions to important — or potentially important — books, essays, reporting, online posts, speeches, debates films, and other media events.

Perhaps it goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway): "I didn’t read the book but…" is not a particularly strong start if you decide to take your two minutes. = - ) 

In Cultural Catalyst Circles we practice being unusually interesting in the other.

Cultural Catalyst Circle Examples:

"What did you take away from the presidential campaign debate?"

"What’s your take on the book Jesus and John Wayne?"

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