Safe relationship is built by tending to our shared intentions, agreements, or values regularly.
We talk a lot about how intent matters more than impact, but we don’t talk about how to cultivate intention over time so that our impact is consistently in alignment with our integrity. An intention can be a passing thought or it can be an ongoing guidance system for our actions.
I’ve learned safe relating works by cultivating our intentions through on-going conversation, decision making, and practice. It's with consistent attention that we're able to co-create the safety we desire.
What I notice about a lot of collectives that try to relate safely is that they define shared intentions, agreements, or values in the beginning, but then don’t talk about them again and assume they'll be maintained. It doesn’t work that way.
Humans need reminders and reinforcement, especially when going against the dominant culture. We need to talk about and practice our shared intentions, agreements, or values in order to guide our choices toward our desired result of safe relationship.
Example - With The Impropriety Society my partners and I filtered all of our decisions through our core values. To nurture the values of radical inclusion and emotional safety we (re)trained the crew before every event to encourage a sense of belonging and provide emotional support as needed to guests. We practiced our shared love ethic by responding to all complaints and conflicts together (after we privately vented) with the most compassionate response we could muster.
I’m certain using our values as a guidance system is what set us up to have a transformational impact, as well as a remarkably successful partnership for several years. It was when we brought more people onto our team who turned out not to be committed to our values that we began to break down.
If we hope to meet the inevitable issues that arise in relationship without harm & rupture, we need to give regular attention to the intentions, agreements, and shared values between us. Then when conflict & hurt arises, we're far more likely to remember together to turn to our guidance system to navigate it.