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  • Living room

rationale

Why are Living Room Conversations structured the way they are?

Living Room Conversations increase understanding, reveal common ground and allow us to discuss possible solutions. No fancy event or skilled facilitator is typically needed. When people of all walks of life begin tocare about one another, they can begin working together to solve the wicked problems of our time. 

  • Why is it important to follow Living Room Conversation’s structure and process?

    • It helps us practice the lost art of deep listening!

    • The structure helps us set up and keep agreements with each other to do things in a way that is clearly stated - from the ground rules to the rounds of questions.

    • The process keeps participants’ attention on the quality of the conversation and not on wondering “what will happen next?”

    • Our conversation guides are specifically designed to maximize your experience -  the rounds of conversation build on each other to increase the depth of the conversation quickly. 

  • Why have ground rules?

    • To help us engage in a respectful conversation that supports openness and curiosity rather than debate.

    • Ground rules let us know what is expected of us and help create a safe environment for a great conversation.

    • It is a good idea to consider if the co-host and guests you want to invite will be good at honoring the ground rules.  If you doubt their ability to do this then they are likely not the right people to invite. The good news is the role of host and guest are powerful and most people are thoughtful and capable of being part of a great conversation.   

  • Why the 5 rounds of conversation?

    • Round 1 is for introductions. It’s an icebreaker to share how we came to be in this conversation.

    • Round 2 helps us learn about each others’ values and perhaps find something in common before jumping into the topic round.

    • Round 3 is the topic round. Here, Living Room Conversations provides questions that draw out our personal stories and helps each of us see where our beliefs may have developed.  We encourage spending more time on round 3 than the other rounds.

    • Round 4 allows us to pause briefly to reflect on what we may have just learned and what we appreciate about the conversation so far.

    • Round 5 helps us identify if there is common ground and declare any action we might want to take as a result of this conversation.

  • Why is diversity in the conversation important?

    • It’s much harder to stereotype and dismiss the views of “other” people once we meet one or two.

    • Personal stories from people who are different from us are fascinating. They can also help us examine our own stories from a new perspective.

    • Don’t be put off if you don’t have the “right” kind of diversity. Living Room Conversations recognizes so many kinds of diversity: left/right, age, culture, economic circumstances, gender, religious, omnivore/vegetarian/vegan, voter/non-voter, and the list goes on. Let your choice of topic help you decide what kinds of diversity will make your conversation most rich.  

    • Sometimes there are two sides to an issue and often there are many.  Use your insight to shape the Living Room Conversation.  Who do you want to hear from?

  • Facilitator or no facilitator?

    • In most cases, the only facilitator you need is a copy of the conversation guide and the ground rules for each person.

    • Everyone in the group has shared responsibility for owning and guiding the conversation.

    • With a video Living Room Conversation it is often helpful to have one of the hosts get things started and watch the time so the conversation can end when agreed upon.

    • Some people find they do want a facilitator. We offer facilitator support, training, and we even offer facilitators. For more information, contact  Mary@LivingRoomConversations.org 

  • What is “open-source” and why is it important?

    • “Open-source” means that anyone can use our materials without asking our permission - we just ask that you give Living Room Conversations credit.

    • By offering our materials in an “open-source” way we can develop and share conversation guides in more issue areas. This creates a cycle of online-to-offline community building as we learn from and support each other in becoming a more respectful, civil society. 

  • Living Room Conversations are not:

    • debates, arguments, soapboxes

    • a tool for trying to change other people’s minds or positions. (Almost nobody changes their position on an issue in a single conversation. But almost everyone says their own viewpoint expanded!) 

  • Living Room Conversations are:

    • an opportunity to open hearts so that we can soften our attitudes toward people who are different.

    • a place we can see ourselves working collaboratively during the course of the conversation.

    • a place where it is safe and easy and even fun to disagree!

    • a chance to become more innovative in our own thinking.

    • a way to make our own ideas clearer and stronger.

    • a way to practice citizenship and democracy.

    • a place to begin solving problems in a lasting and meaningful way

    • are a powerful tool for intentionally making connections with people we might not otherwise talk to.  The outcome of a conversation might be taking action on some identified common ground or simply a better understanding of an issue.  Sometimes when there is a complex challenge being discussed a Living Room Conversation can lead to a facilitated conversation which includes people that you now have a better connection with.  

  • Adapting Living Room Conversations to your needs

    • We do have a shortened format for conversations in classes or meetings where time is limited.  This involves a 3-round conversation where we condense the first 2 rounds and the last 2 rounds (keeping the third round the same). Get in touch if you’d like more information about how to do this. Often participants wish they had more time, but the 3-round conversation is a good start and can pave the way for fuller future conversations.

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  • published this page in getting started 2017-06-30 07:21:36 -0700