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AA meeting chair guidelines

Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:03 pm
by Cristy99
I am not sure where to post this question, I'm new to the online forum. I was wondering if there is something published by AA that gives guidelines and rules for chairing meetings.

Re: AA meeting chair guidelines

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:07 am
by D'oh
The Twelve Traditions Two - For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

Re: AA meeting chair guidelines

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:24 am
by Brock
Welcome here Cristy, where you posted the question is fine, the site has very few 'rules' just like AA itself.

I have not seen anything under 'official' AA publication directed specifically to chairing, there are a few suggestions found by Goggling the question, but these are just individual opinions on how certain people feel it should be done.

Since each group is free to decide how things are done, I believe the best bet in chairing is staying close to what others do when they chair. It is accepted that if anyone wants to change the format, or what is read during or before the meeting, that they would raise this at a group conscience meeting. By the same token, if someone is chairing in a way which another member believes is not good for the group, that member may also raise this at a meeting.

Re: AA meeting chair guidelines

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:30 am
by positrac
Each part of the country/world has the individual expectations on the chair. I've chaired meetings in other places even though I am the visitor and it just works.

Re: AA meeting chair guidelines

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:20 am
by Cristy99
Thank you all!

We have recently (over the past few months) had a pretty large influx of new members!! This is fantastic news!! I have had some concern with the fact that the new-comers haven't quite learned the general rules such as no cross-talking or side-bar discussions. It is written in the general meeting guidelines at our club (essentially an instruction sheet of what is said and done at the meeting by the chair) and said at every meeting, "no cross-talk or side-bar discussions, please go outside for those discussions..." I remember when I was new I didn't know what the was. I feel that these new-comers don't know what it means either because our meetings are now rampant with cross-talk/counselling an individual, and side-bar discussions. One member in particular is whispering to his neighbor many times throughout every meeting he attends. I feel the latter in particular is extremely damaging to the person sharing. I almost lost my religion one day when this member did his whispering while a brand new member was sharing (trying to share, that is) across the very table at which she was sitting!!! In my opinion, whispering like this is telling the person sharing that what they have to say doesn't matter, and essentially, THEY don't matter. I see that damage is being done. I have prayed about this situation and am not sure what, if anything, should be done.


Re: AA meeting chair guidelines

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:11 pm
by Brock
Once again I think this falls on the chair, a good chairperson would remind the meeting each time these things happen, that they are against the group guidelines, and also explain to newcomers what cross-talk means. Unfortunately not all chairpersons were created equally, and since in the spirit of rotation all who qualify should get an opportunity, we have to take the good with the not so good.

“I almost lost my religion one day...” - I really like that way of putting it, and have lost my cool a couple times in the past over this same issue. What I do now if I am speaking and this happens I stop, and say I will continue after they have finished with their private conversation, this shuts them up quick sharp. If I were a member of the group I would raise this at a group conscience meeting, let it be agreed that the chair controls this behavior, if not a member I would write out my concern and put it anonymously in the hat with my contribution, the money goes into the hands of people able to act on suggestions like these.

AA members who care about things like this, which especially affect new persons, seem to be a dying breed. Too often we hear advise like find another group if you don't like it, or the greatly overused 'live and let live.' I really hope you manage to be the agent of change, but don't loose your serenity too much over it, acceptance is hard sometimes, but often the only solution.

Re: AA meeting chair guidelines

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:35 am
by Cristy99
Brock, Thank you so much for that.

That is exactly what I did...stopped talking until the other member noticed I wasn't talking. He glanced back at me (he was sitting right in front of me) and I said, "are ya done?" He nodded and turned back around. Of course I totally forgot what I was going to share, and he got up and left shortly after. My biggest character defect is fear, or at least it seems to control most of my behavior. I am really concentrating my efforts on fear currently, working closely with God and my sponsor. After this benign confrontation I had such a huge adrenaline rush as the result of fear, I was shaking violently for the duration of the meeting. Then came the self-doubt of questioning my actions...."was I wrong to do that?" After the meeting, the chair, a friend of mine, thanked me for doing what I did. He confided that he did not know what to do about this member. Sadly, it was the very next meeting I attended that the same member had a side-bar discussion while the newly sober lady was sharing. I have been in prayer waiting on God to tell me whether to gently confront this member. I really feel like he just doesn't realize the damage he is causing as he is new to the program as well. I recently accepted the nomination to be "program chair" of our group. I am finding out more and more about the position. It seems I am in charge of all of the meeting chairs...I think. Or maybe it's just to make sure all the meetings have a chair. Ugh! I want there to be a nice little list of the full scope of my responsibilities, but the description posted is very vague. So I was thinking of posting a note in the folder we use, addressed to the meeting chair-people, just suggesting a detailed description of the meeting guidelines when they are beginning each meeting. I will approach the GSR and my sponsor about this.

All of these feelings...these fears of not being perfect...of messing up...of not being able to CONTROL what everyone thinks of me help me to realize I have much work to do!!!

Thanks for listening. Now I am off to find topics regarding fear, control issues, etc.!!! Have a great day!!

Re: AA meeting chair guidelines

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:29 am
by PaigeB
I like a site called 164 and more. You can type in search words and get to readings with those words!

Re: AA meeting chair guidelines

Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:26 pm
by Cristy99
Thanks Paige!! I'll give it a try!!