Context and convening

February 15, 2011 |  by  |  Uncategorized

Where are the contexts in which we have opportunity to engage in rich, wholesome conversations with people we may not know?

If such experiencing is important to you, where can you do this? Particularly if you enjoy meeting new people? Or wish to expand your social circle? Or see value in improving your communication skills?

My sense and likely yours too is that such contexts are not easy to find.  Which gives rise to the notions that conversation is a dying art, that digital technology leads increasingly to insubstantial connecting and that many people no longer have the ability to listen carefully.  Not necessarily true!

Supposing such contexts are created by someone who takes on the role of convening gatherings in which people feel happy and at ease to join in conversation, knowing that they are totally welcome and included?

Would this appeal to you?

This happened recently in Adelaide in Australia. My wife Carmen and I were there over the  Chinese New Year holiday.  In order to connect with some of our friends we invited them to join in a dinner party at a restaurant near to where we were staying – actually called ‘The House of Zen’, which, as you may suspect, was nicely decorated Chinese style!

As there were many diners booked into the restaurant on the night the proprietor arranged for our guests – about 25 people – to sit at one long table.

This made for plenty of opportunity for speaking to the persons opposite or on either side.  And while all present knew us, not many of them knew others as the group was drawn from people whom we had met in a variety of situations in the course of our living for about thirty years in Adelaide prior to coming to Hong Kong in 2005.

And so, when I suggested to our friends as they arrived, find – if you wish – someone you have not met before with whom to have dinner, this was no problem!

In the event, there was a hubbub of lively engaging throughout the evening as people revelled in the opportunity to converse with one or more others and to realize that there were common elements of their backgrounds in unexpected ways.  Also to be astonished about what someone had done or experienced, which was very different from their own.

After the dinner was over many of the guests moved to different positions on the table and said hello to others who they may have met previously or not.

All in all a most relaxed social happening.

Feedback about their feelings of being participants from several people is that they greatly enjoyed the conversations with new people, albeit that they may not meet again – except perhaps if we should convene another such gathering in the future!

Which brought to mind this comment from a dear friend in Florida, USA, who wrote to me recently:

“Indeed, our modern world pulls us in many directions, problems to be solved tugging at our heart, feeling so overwhelmed at times.  …  I step back for a moment and feel inspired to my own life purpose which I sometimes forget — opening space for meaningful conversations to happen, reminding all that in the end, connecting with others in the present moment of life is all that matters.”
Suzanne Daigle

I wonder how this story of rich connecting ‘in the moment’ resonates with you?

And what you see as illustrated here with regard to the ideas of ‘context’ and ‘convening?’

Could such a gathering occur when the convener is not known to anyone present?

Alan Stewart

PS Seemingly nobody present need an aid such as this to start a conversation. <smile>

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