After dinner conversations

March 2, 2010 |  by  |  Uncategorized

Conversare gatherings are for people to have ‘intimate conversational engagement’ and associated activities through which to experience richness of connecting, and risk taking through sharing personal vulnerability – and fun.

As mentioned earlier the beginning is conversing in pairs of hitherto strangers – or at least people who do not know each other well – over a meal.

People seem to appreciate this very much. Reported a participant in the most recent one on Feb 19th:

“It’s always great to come to Conversare to meet new people, share a delicious meal, and talk with a complete stranger about things that matter to each of us.”
Andrew Parkinson

Part of the reason may be the ‘breaking bread’ together – which likely  is deeply embedded in our psyche and our experiencing. Another reason is that everyone is thoroughly included from the outset. And this approach enables everyone to get into the swing of asking, listening, admiring and noting in the course of the pairs talking about anything they wish.

Once the meal has been cleared away … it is time to gather together in groups of four around small tables and bring in World Café design principles.

For now is the opportunity to engage in diverse activities, some of them being conversational and others moving around through dance, singing and ‘deep fun’ games.  These last named will be touched on in a future post.

Conversare
Among the topics for conversing in foursomes about things that matter which have been used are:

  • Share an experience which has been particularly memorable for you.
  • Remember and share with your group a time when you were particularly moved by a work of art, such as a movie, music, theatre, painting, ballet, poetry, sculpture …
  • ‘What is a stranger?’ This topic was introduced by a person who comes to every event and invariably adds nice touches.
  • What are some old ways of being that I’d like to acknowledge, accept, befriend and let go of?
  • Chuckle Cafe. This can be great fun both through enabling participants in small groups to come up with funny ‘takes’ on topics supplied by the host or suggested by participants. For example “Taxi experiences in Hong Kong”, “What is meant by ‘growing older disgracefully?'” There can also be an element of competition between tables to add an ‘edge.’

I will say more about this component in another post. A point to make now is that you do not have to classify yourself as being comedian as it’s basically brainstorming – nor will you be dragged onto a stage!

How do these topics appeal to you? Can you see yourself exploring them in the company of lively others?

Says another person who has come frequently:

“When we gather to talk and then break off into pairs and talk it is a relaxed, rewarding experience that I find very likeable and non-threatening. Instead of feeling tired as I often am on a Friday evening I end up feeling quite enlivened. Conversares offer an opportunity to connect richly, to meet new people and to see others in a positive light. It is a real sort of experience though, not something entirely removed from other social settings. The difference between it and some gatherings is that I look forward to Conversares. They are energizing.

In some social settings I find that I cannot ‘find my way into’ a conversation. There just is not a gap and I don’t want to interrupt. I also don’t always feel like witnessing a performance, or watching someone grandstand. We may have the idea that we must be entertaining to be considered of value. Yes it is great to make people laugh however I don’t always find that I want to just laugh out loud. I might want to reflect, especially if what people are talking about is dear to their hearts. This is my experience of Conversares. I do want to contribute by speaking and listening –  and in fact am often spell bound.”
Carmen Liddane

Alan Stewart
Hong Kong


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