Conversation Circles

Conversation Circles


What are they?

Working Intentionally Logo: Sustainability; Living Intentionally; Working Intentionally; Power of a conversation circle; Knowledge management and expansion © 2002 Matthew Rochte All Rights Reserved

When was the last time you were able to
thinktogether
with another person?

Conversation Circles are an old technology. The Conversation Circle has many names: elder’s council, leadership circle, campfire circle, roundtable, and many more. They all result in the same form – people gathering in a circle to think together. Circles naturally slow people down, allow people to focus, create equality, and connect.

The power of the Conversation Circle comes from the sharing of ideas and thinking together in a safe environment that nurtures innovation, curiosity, and exploration. In the circle of conversation the questions are often more important than the answers. Reflective thinking is the outcome. Curiosity is the instrument.

Conversation comes naturally to humans beings. It is at our core as human beings to connect with other people and we do this through conversation. We yearn to have deep meaningful conversations with others.

Conversation Circles Are image © 2002-2004 Matthew RochteConversation Circles are a process of remembering how to connect, to listen, and to truly communicate. This is not rocket science. We are not talking about new skills learn. These are ancient skills, ancient pathways to learning. These skills we all have embedded in our memes and maybe even our genes. We will recall this skill as we witness the circle again for the first time.

Conversation Circles are a place where the question is more important than the “answer.” They are a place to slow down our thinking to enable our collective minds to connect. They are a simple method to truly connect with others. They are an opportunity to be heard and to truly listen. They are a place of great understanding. They are a place of knowledge expansion.

The power of the conversation circle lies in the fact that it is not a debate. A Conversation Circle is about listening – not talking. It is about sharing, not taking sides. It is about engaging people where they are – not where you want them to be. Conversation is about sharing thoughts with an equal. Conversation can only truly take place among equals.

Let the confusion in- to find clarity: Our growth comes from the opening of our minds/hearts/souls to the confusion. It is through the confusion that our curiosity is piqued. Our curiosity is our strongest tool of life engagements. From the curiosity comes the real conversation.

Guiding Principles:

  • Gather in a circle so we can see each other
  • Acknowledge one another as equals
  • Create a safe space for the conversation
  • Invite inquiry & respect the questions (or confusion)
  • Stay curious about each other
  • Suspend certainty
  • Let go of assumptions
  • Be aware of judgments
  • Speak your truth from your own experience
  • Make your words count
  • Recognize that we need each other’s help to become better listeners
  • Slow down so that we have time to think and reflect
  • Expect it to be messy at times

Formats:

There are two predominant types or formats for circle conversation

Conversation Circles work best with fewer than 25 people, however, they can work up to 50 if experienced users are present

Conversation Circles: small groups (under 25 people)
Conversation Cafe: large to very large groups