LS – Conversation Café

What is meant by it?

Conversation café helps the participants to talk about a topic and to listen to what other people have to say about it. People will engage with one another and try to understand each other’s perspectives instead of debating or arguing with each other.

How is it done?

Conversation café can be carried out by inviting all the participants to sit together in a group and listen to each other’s thoughts about a particular challenge. Chairs, talking object, markers, and flip-chart papers will be provided to the participants. Firstly, you will tell the theme of the conversation to the participants and that there will be four segments of communication at each table. In the first two rounds, the participants will use a talking object, whereas in the third segment they will have an open conversation. In the last round they will use a talking object. Then, you shall read over the agreements to the participants. In the first round, each participant will be given 1 minute to talk about what they feel about the theme of the topic. In the second round, each participant will share their thoughts about everyone else’s thoughts in 1 minute. The third round will be an open conversation for 20-40 minutes, whereas in the last round the participants will be given 5-10 minutes to share what they will be taking away from this conversation.

What is its purpose?

Conversation café will help the participants in understanding the logic behind complex and painful situations that are hard to get a grip onto in the first place. It will also help them in being able to come up with new ideas and be innovative. People will learn how to understand each other and respect each other’s perspective to avoid arguments. It will also teach them that it is essential to listen to others.

What are its Tips and Traps?

Make sure that all the participants reread the agreements before beginning this liberating structure. The host should conduct this organizational structure like it is a dinner party so that everyone can contribute to the conversation and make it a productive conversation. Make sure that no one remains quiet and that they are speaking what is actually on their mind. Always choose talking objects that have a symbolic meaning. All the participants should record their insights on their flip-chart.

Examples – Where can it be used?

Conversation Café is an agile technique for understanding different things, and it can be used in the following circumstances:

  • To understand why there was a huge setback in the market.
  • To understand different trends that you could not understand before.
  • To handle situations where people will be expressing strong feelings.

— Slimane Zouggari