Unhurried Conversations are one of the ways we use the approach. They are free and open to the public. They are hosted by unhurried enthusiasts in different parts of the world. We also use them in work with organisations. 

We pick an everyday object, like a sugar bowl, 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.) When the speaker has finished, they return the object to the table, and someone else then takes a turn. Sometimes there are long pauses between speakers, sometimes not.

If you’re interested in hosting where you live, we’d be happy to offer advice - get in touch.

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. 

A rich open conversation, full of potential
— Participant in Unhurried Cambridge

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 describes his experience hosting them here. He has also written this short Guide to Hosting an Unhurried Conversation.

For more information and advice, email johnnie.