Unhurried Conversations are one of the ways we practice our approach. They are free and open to the public. We also use them in our work with organisations.
We use a simple device to support an unhurried conversation: it’s a talking piece. We pick an object and whoever holds it gets to talk. And everyone else listens. Which means the speaker won’t get interrupted. (And they can hold the object and not speak… so they can hold silence until they’re ready to speak.)
The conversations often move between light topics and more personal and profound ones. And in the end, we often find that all these are connected. Sometimes there are long silences, sometimes not.
There are sometimes concerns expressed at the start of the process. “What if someone grabs the object and talks for an hour?” Well, we find that doesn't actually happen... but if people talk for a long time we have lots of choices about how to respond. Generally, the best thing is to relax, listen, and be interested in what is happening.
When people know they aren’t going to be interrupted, they worry less and express themselves more clearly. Also, when people really feel listened to, it seems to increase their focus and the sense that their speech has meaning. They can slow down, and they tend not to repeat themselves. Unhurried conversations are rich and complex, with much less of the battling for attention we often experience.
Johnnie has described his experience hosting them here.