The spaces where we meet-up to practice the 3Practices — online and in-person — are called 3Practice Circles
In the beginning...
...when it was safe to meet in person, we led dozens of 3Practice Circles around the country — including 3Practice Fishbowls at large events where six or eight people in the Circle were surrounded by dozens, sometimes hundreds of people, watching and learning the process.
Perhaps the most unusual feature of 3Practice Circles is that they intentionally include both ideological allies and opponents. We come with no obligation to agree and no expectation that we'll change anyone’s mind (though there is at least a chance of persuading people whose minds are not already made up).
The rules are simple because the work can be difficult.
- The Framing Question sets the agenda. The question may be focused on how the president is doing, racism, the economy … as far as we’re concerned, nothing is off limits. Or the Framing Question may be general, like, "What are you afraid they would do if they thought they could get away with it?" where everyone in the Circle has their own idea about who "they" are.
- A volunteer takes up to two minutes to speak their mind in response to the Framing Question. Everyone else listens carefully.
- Anyone in the Circle may ask a Clarifying Question that begins with "I’d be curious to know…" The questions have to begin that way because a 3Practice Circle is a workout. Learning to think in terms that express unfeigned curiosity trains us for encounters in real life, where genuine curiosity is generally in short supply.
- The volunteer has up to one minute to respond to each Clarifying Question.
- There’s a Referee who keeps time, helps people who need a little help finding a Clarifying Question that isn’t a setup, and keeps the game moving.
- Another volunteer takes two minutes on the Framing Question, —followed by a round of Clarifying Questions — and another … and another.
- Each Circle concludes with a round of Thank-yous from anyone to anyone who has asked a thoughtful question, expressed a novel idea, made a good point, demonstrated patience, kindness, generosity, passion, courage, or demonstrated one of the 3Practices.
TWO . ONE . ONE
The basic rules can be summarized as:
Two Minutes: for a volunteer to answer the Framing Question
One Minute: to answer Clarifying Questions that begin with: "I’d be curious to know"
One Minute: to respond to a follow-up to the Clarifying Question.
Newcomers to 3Practice Circles may find the experience more like learning to play racquetball than learning tennis … the space where a 3Practice Circle plays out makes it possible to have a pretty good time the long before anyone would say they are really good at it: there’s no net to clear, not too much ground to cover, the walls and ceiling are all playing surfaces … we start, more or less, by hitting the ball as hard as we can in the general direction of the front wall, then we build from there.
Nobody has to say anything in a 3Practice Circle … we don’t call on people, we don’t go around the Circle, we don’t take polls… You decide when, if ever, you’re ready to ask a question or take your two minutes.
The best way to understand all this is to sit in on a couple of 3Practice Circles — once for the experience, the second time to see what changes, and what doesn’t change, depending on who is in the Circle.
If you’d like to know when the next Circles are scheduled, contact us and we’ll get back to you asap.
Meanwhile, here’s a recorded 3Practice Circle on Waking Up White in America.
FAQ: What are the 3Practices
FAQ: Who’s behind 3Practice Circles?
FAQ: How do folks become 3Practice Circle Leaders?
A 3Practices Story
Late one night in a Central-California hotel, a traveling salesman invited us to join him for a beer.
“Where you from?” he asked.
“Pacific northwest,” we said.
“So … Democrats, then,” he replied. Satisfied he’d gathered, in a single question, all the evidence he needed to size us up as ideological opponents, he changed the subject to sports.
This is the spirit of the age, nicely summed up by The Onion headline:
“STEREOTYPES ARE A REAL TIME-SAVER”
Of course they are. Because, honestly, who has the time, let alone the need for real conversations when simpleminded stereotypes will do?
The 3Practices emerged as a feat of reverse-engineering. Over decades, we observed, and eventually described and named the habits of people who cross the difference divide — repeatedly and on purpose. Not only do these people have time for real conversations, they’ve decided they don’t have time anymore for conversations that aren’t real.
In 2017, we started leading 3Practice Circles, first in Seattle, then across the country, in order to prove that it’s possible to have substantive, civil conversations with ideological opponents.
We lead Open 3Practice Circles where anyone is welcome, we lead Hosted 3Practice Circles where folks can introduce the 3Practices to people in their spheres of influence, and we lead Private 3Practice Circles for businesses, civic groups, religious organizations, schools, and universities.
We train others to lead 3Practice Circles, too, because we can’t be everywhere … nor do we need to be. When people see what goes on in a 3Practice Circle, some of them think, I could learn to do that. Yes, they could … and can … and do.
This is who we are.
Host a 3Practice Circle in Your Sphere of Influence
We’ll be happy to referee a 3Practice Circle for people who matter to you.
Addressing stress points and conflict in Businesses, Religious Institutions, Universities, Civic Leadership Organizations, Professional Associations, Multiethnic Communities … We’ve done 'em all. What can we do for you?