Town Meeting Guidelines for Civil Discourse

Guidelines for Civil Discourse

Whereas, the Bedford Select Board desire civil discourse among and before all Town of Bedford boards and committees;

Now, therefore, the Bedford Select Board hereby establishes guidelines for ensuring orderly and peaceable discourse at public meetings and in all matters related to business of these public bodies as follows:

Members of the public shall follow any guidelines from the Chair regarding who speaks, when, and for how long.

Members of the public shall not disrupt others’ comments or the conduct of the public meeting.

Outside of general public comment periods, speakers shall limit their comments to those reasonably related to the agenda item or subject at hand.

In order to guarantee full participation by all people and to ensure productive discourse, we also encourage all citizens to respect the following guidelines:

Show respect for others.

Allow each person to finish speaking before responding

Use helpful, not hurtful language

Speak as you would like to be spoken to.

Use courtesy titles (Mr., Ms., Sir, etc.) and ask if unsure

Restate ideas when asked

Use a civil tone of voice

Agree to listen.

Respectfully listen to differing points of view

When unsure, request clarification

Realize that what you say and what people understand you to have said may be different

Recognize that people can agree to disagree 

Speak for yourself, not others.

Speak from your own experience

Use “I” statements (“I think that the ideas presented ...”)


Adopted by the Bedford Select Board this 13th day of March, 2023.