Ask anyone involved in healthy Ethical Non Monogamy what the most important part is, and they will most likely answer "communication". So, how do we do that?
One of the most effective ways to ensure everybody is working towards the same
goals is to have regular "Poly Processing" meetings, or "relationship check-ins". These are simply times set aside to discuss everybody's progress. The ideal relationships will have everybody share their needs, wants and expectations, and then focus on how they can help meet the needs of everyone else, while trusting that their own needs will be met. The check-in allows us to release that control and to trust, knowing that everyone has accountability at the next check-in.
So what does it look like? Each member of a poly hive will prepare in advance, contemplating honestly their needs, wants and expectations of life in general. This is not a list of activities, but a list of feelings and emotions. "I need radical honesty" "I expect to be respected" or "I want to feel worthy of love". A need is something that is a hard limit. If it cannot be met, then the relationship cannot continue. A want would be something that ought to be earnestly strived for, but we can still be content without it. An expectation is where we look a little closer at expectations from others, while still recognizing that absolutely no person has the right to change the actions of another.
With these preparations written down, we meet (yes, everyone together) and share our needs wants and expectations. Everyone is reminded that this is a safe space, with no blame. After all, if a book falls off the shelf, does figuring out who knocked it off matter? No, what matters is that it gets put back on the shelf. The intention of the meeting is to ensure everybody's needs are vocalized, recognized, and addressed. Each person shares their needs. After all, a need that is not vocalized is nothing more than a wish.
We typically use a talking stick so that everyone has a fair chance to be heard, without being interrupted or cut off. A talking stick can be a fun, distinctive paddle, a dildo, or a wooden spoon from the Dungeon (or kitchen). A comical stick breaks the ice, and I've seen all sorts of variations! If clarification on a person's thoughts is needed, then it is given. After all, the most important part of effective communication is understanding what is being said. If we need to ask for clarity so that we understand, we must feel empowered to do so. Remember that passive aggressive comments and blame do NOT belong in poly processing!
After every hive member has had the chance to share their needs, then we start again with wants. And then again with expectations. Once everybody has shared their NWE, then the evaluation part starts. We start over again, using a talking stick, and ask the first person "Is this Need being met? Are you happy with this?". We do that for each of their Needs, and if a Need is not being met, we ask "What does it look like if this Need is met/how can we as a group work towards meeting this need?" We plan, make goals, etc to ensure each member is happy and sated in the relationships.
Sometimes, having a need met isn't even from the one you are in a dating/paired relationship with! Feelings of acceptance and importance can often be reinforced by metamours recognizing your validity and standing. If you don't have a chance to sit and discuss with all the hive - paramours, metamours, platonic life partners, etc - then all the onus of "happiness" or "success" is on the one partner. That's a lot of responsibility, to be solely responsible for the well being of all your partners! Especially in poly, it "takes a village"
After making plans to ensure NWE are met (even if it is "keep doing as we do") everybody agrees to watch the Needs of the others and to NOT FOCUS ON THEMSELVES until it is again time to prepare for the next processing date. When we are externally focused and not looking inward to whether our own needs are met, we tend to be happier in meeting the needs of the others. After all, isn't life a little sweeter when you don't have to think about yourself?