We're taking a few weeks to unpack the essential elements of The Purple Living Room Project. Last week, we looked at the Purple Code.
This week, we'll focus on the Purple Points Protocol.
The protocol is designed to help us have focused, fair and productive conversations. Using the protocol ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to speak and that the focus is on listening carefully to one another. The goal of the protocol is to find Purple Points. These are areas of common ground that everyone in the conversation agrees upon.
There are three rounds to the Purple Points Protocol...
The discussion starts with everyone giving a personal statement on the topic. This is a chance to share your opinions and also to explain what life experiences have helped shape your thinking.
The goal is to help everyone understand your position.
Going around the circle, each person takes a turn to make a personal statement. We recommend a time limit of two minutes for each speaker. This keeps everyone focused on the topic and makes sure the protocol doesn't go on all night!
A key part of this round is that everyone speaks without interruption. This can take some practice. We are all conditioned to give feedback right away and listening without responding feels unnatural. It's awkward at first, but after you try it a few times, the silence is liberating. You can focus your attention entirely on what is being said without needing to respond immediately. There will be time for that in Round Two...
The second round is focused entirely on making connections.
Once again, everyone takes a turn to speak around the circle, nobody interrupts the speaker, and there is a two-minute time limit.
This time, each person focuses their comments on areas where they find agreement with what someone else has said.
The goal is to make connections with what you heard others say in the first listening round.
Ideally, you will find points of agreement with several members of the group. These can be SMALL points of agreement. That's okay. It's a start!
When everyone has shared their connections, it's time for Round Three...
The final round of the protocol is the Purple Points Conversation. The discussion opens up now and anyone is free to speak at any time.
The goal is to find Purple Points of agreement.
Reflect on the personal statements and connections you've heard and look for areas of possible agreement. This final round takes longer than the first two listening rounds and usually results in a rich conversation about the topic. Once you get close to finding a Purple Point, it still sometimes requires extra wordsmithing to find just the right statement that works for everyone. Stick with it...you'll get there!
Please remember that these conversations are not meant to be debates. It's not a time to convince others to think like you do. The focus always remains on finding areas of agreement and on listening carefully to others to better understand their points of view.
That's the Purple Point Protocol in a nutshell. Give it a try with friends or family! Next week, we'll look at how to use the protocol in a Purple Living Room Party.
-The Purple Living Room Team
"Meet in the Middle"