A Literary Spirit

A Literary Spirit

The Way of Council [Learning to Dialogue/Resolve Conflict in Circles]

The Way of Council is an excellent book penned by Jack Zimmerman and Virginia Coyle.  Both have extensive experience working through simple and difficult issues using the unique format of a circle.

This isn’t just about sitting in a circle and gabbing.  There are parameters, and strategies, to make circles work.

Usually circles involve a talking stick, to prevent people from speaking out of turn, or more importantly, without mindfulness.

Circles move in one direction, again, to achieve inclusiveness and  good flow.  Usually circles involve listening more than talking–because the foundation of council (in the Aboriginal tradition) is to listen with your whole heart to your community, and to develop patience and tolerance.


I liked the examples in this book–Jack and Virginia have worked with this format in large and small groups, with young children and elders, and with folks across different cultures.   I learned of this methodology long ago and have used them in my organization and in my various communities.

It’s a classic–I found it a decade ago and still find myself re-reading and referencing today.

Purchase The Way of Council from the Beliefnet Shopping Mall.


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