What principles are behind the design of Conversation Labs?

Trust does not happen by accident.  Trust is an emergent property of healthy relationships.

Meaningful conversations are not accidents, either.  They lead to healthy relationships.

Meaningful conversations can also be a bit mysterious.

 The process and activities in ConversationLabs demystify meaningful conversations.

Low-risk social and emotional learning experiences build confidence.

The lab balances form and freedom for each participant and for the group.

The activities integrate and blend thinking, feeling, and willing.

Participants tend to dismantle unconscious prejudices when they hear someone’s story.

Participants have fun and want to hear more stories from their partners!

People were inspired by the story sharing and the sharing felt honest. I was surprised how vulnerable most people were being.

Lab Participant
Location, Sweden

As humans, we are capable of deeper, more meaningful conversations. When we reflect, we realize that when we experience a deep and meaningful conversation with another, we set in place further steps toward a healthy relationship. And, we know that from healthy relationships, trust emerges.  We cannot expect trust to emerge from superficial chit-chat or “all business” conversations.

We can’t make a flower grow by pulling on it. Nor can we make trust grow by just talking about it. ConversationLabs weave together two distinct forms: 1) creating and sharing an original story or experience, and 2) engaging in an open conversation after having listened to each other’s personal experience. This is not just “storytelling,” it is “story sharing” and calls up active listening with warm hearts.

We change when we hear someone’s concrete, personal experience: our prejudices recede a bit. Our interest is awakened. What other stories are there? No longer is that woman in the red dress, just the woman in the red dress. Now, she is an aunt with a nephew whose actions have upended the family’s finances, disrupting traditional roles. We each relate to different parts of her story.

By sharing our own life experiences we are seeking to break through the outer shells that our culture has told us matter: physical looks, wardrobe, speech or media-modeled anti-social practices.

Simply, we are striving to revive the art of meaningful conversation. We strive to disrupt routine and convention. We inspire our lab partners to speak at their level of comfort, avoiding empty phrases.

No outside facilitator is needed. Between 3-6 lab partners enjoy a ConversationLab all within an hour. The variations are endless, as are our stories. We are taking steps to recover a precious part of our humanity.