Ground Rules

Transparency, Curiosity, and Compassion

I live at Daybreak Cohousing ( Daybreak is an intentional community of neighbors who want to know each other and interact with each other on a daily basis. See our website or the national cohousing website: if you want to know more about us or cohousing in general. As with most communities, we have adopted a process/guide to help us effectively communicate with one another. We have adopted the “Mutual Learning Model”.

Transparency, Curiosity, and Compassion are the three key elements in the “Mutual Learning Model”. I find them to be invaluable in having clear, useful and productive conversations. They are particularly useful when having difficult conversations, which all of us have in life – be it with your partner, your family, your neighbors, or your colleagues.

Tuesday night, Emily Newberry with Wizense, Inc. (, came and talked to our community about these concepts. She helped to make this way of communication more present for us once again as it has been quite awhile since our community has focused on how we communicate. I found it to be a wonderful  reminder of how to be together and what is important to us.

These are the guiding principles underlying Roger Shwarz’ 9 ground rules (, which we have also adopted. Ground rules are ways of talking and communicating with each other that are mutually agreed upon. They help groups talk in a way that supports each other and furthers communication to get to joint decisions.

“Transparency is being fully who you are and being honest about what you know and believe and how you see things.”

“Curiosity is being genuinely interested in what others have to say and what they know.”

Compassion is temporarily suspending the belief that you have the right answer and putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to get what it is like to know what they know and reason the way they do.”

When you do all this, you can ‘play in the sandbox’ together. You begin by inviting the person/people you want to have a conversation to join you. This is much more effective than arm wrestling and being in the place of the “Unilateral Control Model”.

Thank you Emily and Daybreak for a great presentation and reminder! May we all continue to learn together!