Fellowship-Wide Services (F.W.S.)

Side Conversations in Meetings – A Matter of Courtesy or Traditions?

The Question:
Is it a Tradition violation to continue talking for long periods of time while the ABM General Assembly is in session? This is regarding side conversations being ongoing as others are speaking (have the floor).


While the question which is before us is very important, I can find no violation of Tradition. I see this as an act of common courtesy to those who have the floor at a given time. I do feel for the persons who are seated next to and near those conversing and I notice that as time goes on, people seem to move away from the area where these are being held. I believe the conversations which are being held would be better held during breaks or before and after the general sessions and the comments regarding those conversations could be made at the appropriate time within the sessions when that subject is on the floor.

When I am speaking at the ABM, I should be the only person speaking at that time. If I am speaking to another person while another delegate has the microphone, I am not paying attention to that speaker. The person I am speaking to can’t hear the speaker either. It is respect and acceptance of this basic understanding that I define as my sobriety. I try to carry this message in every aspect of my live. To look away, interrupt or contradict is disrespectful. I prefer to listen, then digest and then respond to the speaker. The Tradition that I try to maintain at the ABM is to stay focused on the discussion at hand and be present to what is happening in the moment.

Tradition one suggests that our common welfare is of utmost importance, that we are charged with putting the well being of all members before our individual issue of the moment. I think this Tradition speaks to side conversations at the ABM. Issues for Discussion (IFDs) and Motions are discussed because they affect the common welfare of the group first when we are discourteous and carry on conversations while business is in progress.

If we put the welfare of us all as our first priority, we are more likely to achieve unity. The discord that comes with distracting conversations works against unity and can actually become divisive. Many times controversial subjects are discussed at the Annual Business Meeting. There is already a tendency to take sides and argue against each other. A person who distracts others with side conversations makes unity even more difficult to achieve.

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