Setting ground rules

When you are running a discussion group and you want people to talk freely, it is a good idea to agree a set of ground rules for how people will behave in the meeting and how the things they say will be used.

You can ask people to come up with their own rules and this helps them to feel that they have some control over the process.  However, if they get stuck, you may want to give some prompts of the sort of things they could include:

  • Confidentiality – people should feel free to be open about their experiences and so others should not repeat what is said outside the meeting.  You should at this point make clear whether you will want to quote people directly or make general points about the discussion when you write up your findings
  • Respect for others – don’t criticise or belittle contributions
  • Don’t interrupt
  • All contributions are valuable and should not be judged
  • Start and finish on time
  • Turn phones off (or put on silent and take calls out of the room)