Group Decorum at 12 Step Recovery Meetings
The term “cross talk” means interrupting, referring to, commenting on, or using the content of what another person has said during a meeting. Cross talk also refers to any type of dialog that occurs as the meeting is in progress as well. Members talking to one another or discussing what someone has just said is cross talk.
In fellowship, each person may share his or her feelings and perceptions without fear of being judged or interruption. In meetings, we create a safe place to open up and share. As part of creating that safety, cross talk is not permitted.
In fellowship, we speak about our own experiences and feelings; we accept without comment what others say because it is true for them. We also work toward taking responsibility in our lives rather than giving advice to others. Here are various forms of cross talk:
Each member should be able to share, free from interruption.
When someone is sharing, all others should refrain from speaking, including side conversations with a neighbour. Gestures, noise, or movement could also be considered interruption if it were grossly distracting.
In recovery we keep the focus on our lives and our feelings. We do not make reference to the shares of others except as a transition into our own sharing. A very general “what’s been brought up for me is…” or the occasional “thank you for sharing” is fine, but please do not make more detailed references to another person’s share.
In fellowship we accept what each person shares as true for them. We simply do not make a comment either positive or negative about another person’s share before, during, or after a meeting. In like manner, we never speak about the contents of another person’s share. Everything that is shared in a meeting is considered privileged and confidential and must be treated with the utmost of respect. Unsolicited advice can be a form of commentary and should be avoided.
Fixing others: Learn to listen
In meetings, we do not touch, hug or attempt to comfort others when they become emotional during a meeting. If someone begins to cry during a meeting, we allow the person to feel his or her feelings without interruption. To touch or hug the person is known as “fixing”.
We support others by accepting them into our meetings and listening to them. We allow them to feel their feelings in peace.
We want to balance keeping our groups safe from cross talk with our own responsibility to educate new members about group decorum. In most cases a gentle reminder works.”
Adapted from the basic text of ‘Adult Children of Alcoholics’ pages 573-576.