When I was in college, I lived in this enormous co-op. 150 people. No, let me rephrase that:150 rowdy college students who were, for the most part intelligent, and for the greater part opinionated and outspoken.
And we'd have these weekly housemeetings. That'd be 50 or so people, gathered around a large wood table, trying to make run of the mill decisions about the kitchen, the den, parties, the hot tub.
Sometimes it got serious, sometimes it was ludicrous and hilarious. I have memories of everyone sitting uncomfortably quiet, I have memories of someone leaping on the table and bouncing up and down on it while others cheered. I have memories involving dildos and body parts not generally revealed during a house meeting.
But, that is neither here nor there. Or rather, I digress. I'm easily distracted by a pretty memory.
So, unsurprisingly certain...methods were needed to maintain any semblance of order during these meetings. This was accomplished by parliamentry procedure, or, atleast an interpretation of parliamtary procedure. And, for the most part, people were fair respectful of it.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with such parliamentary procedure, conversation flow, overseen by a moderator, in this case the house president, is organized by a system of raised hands, and hand signals, to determine who talks first:
First speaker is the person who makes the motion. Period. He has the floor until he has explained with resonable clarity.
After that response is determined in the following order: points, questions, comments.
When one has a point, they raise one finger:
There are points of information/interest (reserved for relevant to topic information that needs to be known for the discourse to take an informed turn) and points of personal privelege (made when either the situation wholly concerns you or when you need to leave the room and the subject needs your presence)
When one has a question one raises there finger in a crook. Rhetorical questions are frowned upon. In our case they were often loudly boohed.
When one has a comment, they raise their hand, flat, like in gradeschool.
First raised hand of each hierarchy goes first, and a point will always come before a comment, even if you've had that comment waiting for a damn hour.
Agreement was expressed through a snapping sound, to discourage reiteration.
And why why why am I telling you all of this? What would make me do such a thing?
Well, I guess my point is this: I went to alot of house meetings. Really. I enjoyed the hell out of them, but that, again is another story having to do with how I used to enjoy argument and frustration. More to the point, this order and structure stuck with me.
Even today, I'll be in an agressive conversation or listening to someone going off, monopolozing a subject, whatever, and I'll hear in the back of my head "that is NOT a point of information, thats just an opinion, a comment"
Even stranger, this hierarchy, what needs to be expressed, whats just a little overshare or and FYI in all experiences, also is organized by my memory of this experience.
I'll find myself wanting to start a personal email with "point of personal privelege, she didn't steal your boyfriend because he was my boyfriend first"
you get the idea
I don't know if this is healthy or just scary, but I think at times it has helped me organize my thoughts into what is actually necessarily relevant, and what is just shit I want to bust out.