Objective: "Conversation Cafés aim to foster a society that actively engages in important social topics, which are newly selected for each gathering, by creating a temporary environment that promotes--through mild facilitation--certain conversational etiquette, including open-mindedness, acceptance, curiosity, discovery, sincerity, and brevity" (www.participedia.net).
"The conversationcafe.org organisation in the US suggests the following process:
- Assemble up to 8 people plus host; agree on a hearty topic, find a talking object that is to be passed around, and set a time (1-2 hours). The host explains the process and agreements.
- Round 1: Pass around the talking object e.g. a cushion; each person speaks briefly to the topic, no feedback or response.
- Round 2: Again with the talking object, each person deepens their own comments or speaks to what has meaning now.
- Dialogue: Open, spirited conversation. Use the talking object if there is domination, contention, or lack of focus.
- Final Round: With the talking object, each person says briefly what was meaningful to them.
They also describe six principles for good conversation, which can be used as guidelines:
- Open-mindedness: Listen to and respect all points of view.
- Acceptance: Suspend judgment as best you can.
- Curiosity: Seek to understand rather than persuade.
- Discovery: Question assumptions, look for new insights.
- Sincerity: Speak what has personal heart and meaning.
- Brevity: Go for honesty and depth but don't go on and on." (involve.org.uk)