The Art of Opening the Circle to be in Essential Conversation

 Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal


Continuing the journey around the Convening Wheel, we find ourselves at the 7th Aspect, Essential Conversation, which allows for meaningful exchange in an atmosphere of trust and lays the groundwork for the 8th Aspect, Creation, to be possible.

We are now ready for something new to emerge from the authentic engagement of the group.

  • Margaret Wheatley says, “Conversation is how humans think together.” "Opening the circle," by allowing for reflections and comments from anyone in the group who feels compelled to speak, we can process what we have heard and allow something that is more than the sum of the parts to emerge.  Conversation is most powerful when personal story telling and deep listening are present.  It is also about surfacing all that arises out of the listening and sharing process in a mindful and respectful way:

- We can sense the “questions that lie beneath the questions” to let emerge what is essential.

- We can become aligned with what is at the Heart of the Matter as a collectivegroup – expressing shared core values and vision. 

  • In Opening the Circle we are continually evoking a WISDOM that comes through our collective consciousness.
  • We are also in a practice of mirroring back what it is that has touched us deeply in what was shared.
  • This is also a time for participants to feel heard, to learn how their words have “landed” for another and to have thoughts reflected back to them from a different perspective (or several different perspectives).
  • It is also in this type of respectful conversation that the creative process blossoms and takes flight.  We build on each other’s word offerings and something magicalhappens.

Guidelines for Essential Conversation:

#1: When someone wishes to speak have them introduce themselves beginning with, “I am... (insert their name here)”

#2: When the person speaking is done speaking have them notify the group by saying, "I am complete" or "I have spoken."

#3: Interruptions are not allowed in this form.

#4: Ask for deep listening so the group can hold the space for differences. This is the primary function of this type of conversation.

#5: Be attentive to the pace of the conversation, allowing for silence and pauses between speakers. Silence can seem uncomfortable to many, but the absence of noise also has the potential to be an incredibly generative space for new ideas to take shape.

This structure reinforces our sense of safety, and gives us the freedom toexplore new ways of thinking and being together and ultimately allows for creation to occur.