Revisiting Rules of Conversation: Are You Civil?

board development and revitalization intentional practices roles and responsibilities Jul 25, 2022


A couple of weeks ago, in the Governance as Leadership newsletter, as well as in the Facebook group of the same name, I mentioned a free learning list of wonderful educational resources, and the many additional downloadable resources provided by the organization The School of Thought. Many are applicable to the work of not-for-profit boards.


I would like to highlight one: The Rules of Civil Conversation.


As “they” say, in the interests of all that is good, let’s remember the Rules of Civil Conversation. It seems to me that this could be a good starting point for discussion if your board does not have a code of conduct for board members. Of course, this would only be a start, but a critical one. The obvious additions would be: come prepared to participate, start the meeting on time, contribute, stay on topic, and finish the meeting on time.


But these eight rules are the “guts” of good behaviour in discussions at the Board table.


  • I will try to reach a shared understanding rather than “win the argument.”


  • I will clarify with others to make sure I genuinely understand their perspective.


  • I shall endeavour to avoid committing logical fallacies in support of my claims.


  • I will attempt to account for my own biases and try to be intellectually humble.


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  • I will try to be reasonable, rational, and create coherent arguments.


  • I may challenge ideas, but will refrain from personal attacks and mean-spiritedness.


  • I will use the “principle of charity” to interpret others’ points of view in the best light


  • I promise to remain genuinely receptive to changing my mind.


They are important as a context and support for effective decision-making at the Board table.


Do you have something similar? Have you had the discussion? What were the results? Share your thoughts in our Governance as Leadership Facebook group


You can download this set of rules as a poster for free and invite good-faith engagement online at: The Rules of Civil Conversation.


Similar items are:

This is a Creative Commons initiative of The School of Thought.


What are your main “pain points” dealing with having civil conversations around the board table?

What advice would be most helpful to you?  And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!

Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.



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P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? 

Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.

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