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 IOS | how it works 

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Moderated Dialogue


At the beginning of Open Session, we kick things off with an intention-setting and then move into a moderated dialogue on a timely topic or issue. Everyone is given an opportunity to share their unfiltered perspective. 

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Freeform Dialogue

In the second hour, we break into smaller groups and let the conversations flow more freely. During this time, many participants may wish to explore the group dialogue more deeply or new ideas altogether. 


At IOS, we inevitably will encounter perspectives that do not perfectly align with our own. With that in mind, here are the three guiding rules we rely on to keep the conversation going.  

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Speak freely.


These days, a lot of us are scared to say what we think.  Whether we're concerned about offending others or being judged ourselves, a great deal gets lost in translation simply because we're scared to say what's really on our minds.

At Open Session, we believe that healthy human dialogue demands we feel safe to say what we think, even if it means a little discomfort or confusion in the short run.  That's why we give all participants the green light to say exactly what's on their minds even if it isn't perfectly thought-through or even politically correct.  In exchange for this non-judgmental forum, each of us agrees to stay open to hearing perspectives that may differ from our own. 

Three Simple Rules

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Listen intently.


Unlike most social media debates where the goal is to "win" or to convince other people to think as we do, at Open Session our goal is to deepen our shared understanding.  With this in mind, all participants are advised to take nothing personally and to instead focus our collective energy on active listening.  


For example, rather than be driven into knee-jerk reactions, what intelligent questions can we ask our fellow participants to foster a more productive discourse?Rather than take things personally, how can we zoom out to reveal a larger human truth that unites us?

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Stay Open.


When you come to Open Session, you come not only to speak and to listen, but also to embrace new ways of seeing and thinking.  Acknowledging this, our goal throughout is to cultivate our capacity for DISCERNMENT.  Is the other person truly "wrong" to believe what they do or does their perspective simply not align with our own?  Could there be truth to their perspective that we currently cannot see?  If so, how can we uncover it?  

By staying open to new perspectives and acknowledging that no one knows everything we leave space for new insights to arise than enrich us all. 

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