Public Lab Research note

Communication Guidelines from the Wisconsin Grassroots Festival

by mathew | April 22, 2017 00:41 22 Apr 00:41 | #14129 | #14129

I attended a workshop on communication run by social worker Sarah Shatz at the Wisconsin Grassroots Festival. She had some excellent conversation guidelines that I took note of:

Conversational guidelines for meetings

  • Share from personal experience
  • Listen, be curious, and learn
  • Experience discomfort
  • Connect with your body
  • Be aware of what emotions come up
  • Be brief to intentionally share space
  • Pass if you want to
  • Stay engaged and trust the process
  • Be courageous and vulnerable
  • We are all learners together
  • Expect and accept unfinished business


In addition to these conversational guidelines, a participant explained an acronym and concept for negotiating that I appreciated. The term was BATNA, or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. It apparently derives from a Harvard Business School negotiation tactic. The idea is to enter a negotiation with an idea of the best outcome that can be reached without agreement between negotiating parties. BATNA was brought up in relation to the idea of being 'coopted' by a stakeholder process into agreeing to reduce citizen demands for accountability, either in a pollution scenario or otherwise. The BATNA lets participants keep in mind that there are alternatives to an unwelcome agreement, and that negotiating isn't the only option.


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