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Discussion Guidelines

How to host productive discussions while being inclusive of all participants?


The HYPE discussions are held in a Socratic Seminar form. Every group will have a facilitator to keep the group on track and lead the way, but they are not meant to be the only participants. Everyone has a role of equal importance in the ideals of the Socratic Method -- below are some general guidelines to help have a smooth, productive conversation.


Things to Exercise:

  • Allow time for others to contribute to the discussion; watch your own air time and invite others who are less willing into the conversation if they wish to contribute anything

  • Remain open to other’s ideas; if you disagree with an idea, dissect the ideas, not the people

  • If you disagree with someone, politely express that and give evidence or reasoning behind why you disagree; remember disagreement is part of human existence 

  • Listen to others and show that you are listening -- being ignored is hurtful to people speaking and may discourage them to speak in the future, so pay special attention to the body language and other listening skills you portray

  • Keep an open mind, you may hear a new opinion that you have not considered before

Things to Avoid:

  • Arguments

    • Civil disagreements are perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged, just make sure to avoid taking the discourse in an aggressive manner to make sure it stays a safe space for everyone!​

  • Singling someone out

    • If you do not agree with someone, try to take apart the idea or the concept and not the person!​

  • Belittling tones

    • Sometimes emotional involvement in a topic makes people speak more passionately, this is totally okay as long as that passion for the topic does not translate into hurt feelings!​

  • Ganging up on one discussion member

    • It is important to try to listen to everyone and hear all opinions on a discussion question so if people are singled out, they are less likely to want to continue to communicate their thoughts. Make sure that the discussion groups are a safe and encouraging space for everyone to share!​

  • Controlling the discussion

    • Watching your own air-time is super important in a Socratic set-up like this, everyone should be able to speak freely but just make sure you are watching yourself and giving others the opportunity to speak as well!​

  • Interrupting others

    • If you have a thought that you really want to say, say it! Just make sure to wait for the appropriate time so that everyone gets to finish their thoughts and have the full attentiveness of the group!​

Things to Try:

  • Take notes so you can loop back to a previous topic, statement, or idea

    • It also helps to get to know each other better and bond as a group if you are giving credit to prior thoughts and acknowledging people by name as it helps with association and generally getting to familiarize yourself with your group​

  • Pose probing or clarifying questions

    • Using rhetorical questions to strengthen your point is also welcomed in discussion groups as long as the question serves to benefit and further conversation in a kind, positive way​

  • Build off of others

  • Use the sub-essential questions to continue the conversation

    • Your facilitators in the group are trained to help with this if the conversation reaches a tough spot​

  • Understand that silence is a part of normal conversation, allow for it to happen naturally if people need time to process the concepts at hand

  • Refer to your personal experience and/or background information from your everyday life

  • Push other’s thinking by providing a different opinion

    • Even if you do not wholeheartedly agree with what you say, providing a different side may evoke other lines of thought that help enhance the experience for everyone, so don't be afraid to try it out​

  • Use quotes and/or resources to support your claims and ideas

    • Resources are available for you on our website by clicking here, but are not limited to any other connections you may make with things you have previously read or seen​

  • Ask others to elaborate on their ideas or to explain more if you do not understand something

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