So, you’re hosting your first Living Room Conversation! We’ve assembled a few short videos and guides to answer common questions. We are always learning, so please let us know if you have a question that isn’t answered here.
Through Living Room Conversations, we are able to engage in a deeper and more meaningful conversation about who we are and what we care about. This in turn allows us to take actions where we have common ground.
We hope you take this chance to have a Living Room Conversation yourself, it’s a lot of fun!
Planning a Community Living Room Conversation
Living Room Conversations (LRC) Guides are easy-to-use, self-contained and facilitator-free. All you really need are copies of the conversation guide for each person and a place for people to gather. Even so, when we’re beginning a new journey, it’s sometimes helpful to have a map created by those who have made the trip. The steps below are suggestions that may be helpful. We’d love to hear what works best for you.
There are two models for getting started in a community: a small group of 4-7 people or a conference-style approach that gathers a larger number of people for multiple simultaneous conversations at table, in sitting room areas, or online in a video chat.
The conference-style approach offers an opportunity to introduce a larger number of people to the LRC practice. It requires a bit more preparation than the small group model but can give a jumpstart to a shift in the way people in a community relate to each other. This approach can be an ongoing way to support conversations in the community. It can also encourage people to invite folks into their homes for a small group.continued
FAQ for Living Room Conversations
How do I find a cohost?
Cohosts are best when they have a different perspective from you. Think about your friends with whom you have respectful disagreements.
Who should I invite?
Think about people who are interested in having meaningful conversations about our world. The conversations are richest and most fun when there’s diversity of perspective. Think about many kinds of differences- age, gender, culture, politics and more. You may be surprised at the range of opinion on a particular topic in a group that seems homogeneous.
Do I have to provide food? Or beverages?
While you don’t need to provide food or beverages, having those available is a hospitable gesture that supports conversation. When we share snacks together, we tend to be more sociable. Having a potluck or meeting at a coffee shop can work.
Where can a Living Room Conversation happen?
Living Room Conversations can happen anywhere a small group of people groups can gather in a comfortable and relatively private space. You can even gather online using platforms like Zoom or Google Hangout.
Following these guidelines will ensure your conversation is a safe place for everyone involved to express their opinion — we can almost promise that you will have a productive, insightful conversation!
Be curious and open to learning.
Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. Listen and be open to hearing all points of view. Maintain an attitude of exploration and learning.
Show respect and suspend judgment.
Human beings tend to judge one another; do your best not to. Setting judgments aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated.
Find common ground and appreciate differences.
Look for a common ground you can agree on and appreciate the differences in the beliefs and opinions of others.
Be authentic and welcome that from others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak authentically from your personal experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.
Be purposeful and to the point.
Notice if what you are conveying is or is not pertinent to the topic at hand. Be cognizant of making the same point more than once.
Own and guide the conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and that of the conversation. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed.
Are you curious about what makes a good conversation? Here is some light reading . . .
Ten reasons to spend time with your political opposite (Huffington Post)
It Isn’t Easy Being Civil, But Here Are Some Important Tips (Independent Voter Project)
Effective Communication: Barriers and strategies (University of Waterloo)
Twelve tips for handling difficult conversations (Amex Open Forum)
Conversation, Argument, and Civility (AmericanThinker.com)
How Diversity Makes us Smarter (Scientific American)
The Need for Dialogue (Beyond Intractability)