Your Peers

In some situations it is possible to come together as peers, with a genuinely flat structure.

Some people think they have achieved that, simply by announcing it, but it takes a bit more than that to make it work. People need to trust that it really is a safe place to share as equals.

Establishing that trust isn’t actually very difficult, but it does need careful attention and full agreement from every participant beforehand.

In a situation like this, it becomes easier to let down your guard and admit to uncertainty and mistakes.

Not long ago, I helped to organise a group of authors, who came together as equals to talk about publishing and its difficulties in a safe space. Having agreed that anybody could ask anything, and that participants could freely join or quit any discussion at any time, without offence, we had an amazingly honest discussion.

It was an experience that created strong bonds between those who were there.

Another context in which you might speak to your peers is in the meetings of Toastmasters, where individuals go to learn public speaking in front of each other. More about that later.

Or at any of the 12-step Fellowships, based on Alcoholics Anonymous, where participants gain experience, strength and hope by sharing their common problems and successes. More about that, later, too.

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