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conversation cafe

Engage Everyone in Making Sense of Profound Challenges (35-60 min.)

What is made possible?

You can include and engage any number of people in making sense of confusing or shocking events and laying the ground for new strategies to emerge. The format of the Conversation Café helps people have calm and profound conversations in which there is less debating and arguing, and more listening. Sitting in a circle with a simple set of agreements and a talking object, small groups will engage in rounds of dialogue with little or no unproductive conflict. As the meaning of their challenge pops into focus, a consensual hunch is formed that will release their capacity for new action.

  • Invite all the participants to gather in small groups to listen to one another’s thoughts and reflect together on a shared challenge 

WHY? Purposes

  • Make sense of a complex, difficult, or painful situation and lay the ground for being able to move on
  • Generate new ideas and momentum for innovation
  • Build shared understanding of how people develop different perspectives and ideas
  • Avoid arguments based on lack of understanding
  • Build trust and reduce fear with an opportunity for catharsis
  • Help participants appreciate that conversation involves talking and listening


  • Suspend judgement as best you can
  • Respect one another
  • Seek to understand rather than persuade
  • Invite and honor diverse opinions
  • Speak what has personal heart and meaning
  • Go for honesty & depth without going on & on & on


Formulate the subject:

Round 1

  • 1 min x per person
  • What I think, feel, believe and do about this issue

Round 2

  • 1 min x per person
  • What do I think and feel after listening all

Round 3

  • 20 to 30 minutes
  • The coffee moment
  • Talk and gather insights from the group and define a list of actions.

Round 4

  • 1min x person
  • What do I take from this conversation.