Earlier this year I was introduced to the Blueprint of We and immediately realized I found a great tool for facilitating communication and building agreement in any relationship. Having worked quite a bit with tools to help people address personal issues, communicate more effectively, mediate conflict, and develop other interpersonal skills, I became excited with the potential of this new tool. The Blueprint of We (AKA the State of Grace Document) is not only a tool in its own right, but functions as a container for other tools that work together to encourage healthy and sustainable relationships.
Now being used internationally as a component or alternative to legal contractual agreements, Maureen McCarthy and Zelle Nelson developed the format for their own use at the beginning of their relationship over a decade ago. Inspired by the dancing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, they wanted the same graceful and effortless movement in every aspect of their relationship. Today it is used world wide as a collaborative process to build and sustain healthier and more resilient personal, business, and community relationships.
After Laurie and I took the initial workshop, we knew this process was a perfect fit for us. We decided to use it in our own relationships and then to go on to be certified to facilitate the process to help others, especially in the area of community building. There are five components to the the Blueprint of We that form a guiding framework for developing and existing relationships.
- The Story of Us creates a positive foundation for building the document. It starts with each person writing why they’re attracted to the relationship. This beginning focuses on the story of the others – the characteristics each person most admires or appreciates, and the reasons they are attracted to the situation.
- Interactive Styles and Warning Signs focuses the document on the “story of me”. This step first requires self awareness and indicates how you generally like to work and live – what you are like on a good day and a bad day. The warning signs take this to the next level to reveal your personal signs of stress and the vulnerability to indicate your needs during those times.
- Expectations is the place to move beyond assumptions to detail the agreement. It is a place for each person to indicate what they want in the relationship – their core values and non-negotiables as well as the structures they need to maintain a sustainable relationship. It is the place for expectations to be spelled out for the relationship itself, as well as the details of any contractual agreement – the specifics of who, what, how, when, and where.
- Questions to Return to Peace are to provide guidance when things don’t work as hoped for and agreements are in question. This section functions as a third party mediator to refocus the relationship and goals. Questions are developed to address all areas of the agreement when things are going well, and then used to bring the relationship back into focus at times of difficulty.
- Short and Long Term Agreements is where everyone considers the reality of conflict. Here is where agreement is made to come back together in the short term to examine the document and the questions to return to peace. It also recognizes the unimaginable and agrees on a long term process when conflict cannot be resolved. The bottom line is to do no harm.
After each person develops their part of the document, it is merged to create the “blueprint of we”. You can find more information on this process at the website for the Blueprint of We. Also, feel free to contact us for assistance in facilitating the process in your collaborative living or business relationships.