The Return of the Coffee Klatsch
Coffee, Conversation and Community
The coffee klatsch is back!
Let's face it - - we live in an increasingly hurried and harried world where opportunities for conversations that connect us with friends, family and colleagues have become woefully scarce. It is an unfortunate paradox (uninteded consequence) that hi-tech/low-touch communication and entertainment technologies are simultaneously connecting us and isolating us from meaningful relationships and a sense of community. People are experiencing a yearning for a sense of belonging, connection and authenticity in their relationships.
In many communities and neighborhoods, the local coffee shop is becoming the 21st Century's gathering place for friends, families, couples and colleagues - a place for human connection and face-to-face conversation. Entering into a conversation requires people to slow down, reflect, enjoy others, be curious, listen deeply and speak authentically to co-create a fun and meaningful experience. Authentic conversation is the gateway to vibrant relationships and healthy communities. The coffee shop is the ideal environment for these conversations.
Whether in the coffee shop, at a holiday gathering, in the boardroom, on vacation, or a road trip, a critical challenge people face today is establishing and sustaining healthy relationships with friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. Together people engage in conversations that are simultaniously fun and meaningful will change our relationships, organizations, communities and world.
Here are some tips on how to establish, reinvigorate and deepen relationships through conversations that are more than small talk - that are conversations that matter.
- Listen. Listen not only for the content of others words, but also to the mood or emotion behind their words.
- Don't interrupt. Let others speak without interruption.
- Be curious. Encourage others to tell their life stories.
- Ask powerful questions. Powerful questions expand, rather than shut down a conversation. Powerful questions usually begin with "what", "how", "when" or "where".
- Avoid "why" questions. Why questions often shut-down a conversation by putting people on the defensive. As an alternative to asking "why", ask others to "say more".
- Avoid "yes-no" questions. "Yes-no" questions will also shut-down a conversation, rather than expand a conversation.
- Speak your truth. Speak from your experience rather that what you've heard or read.
- Respect the silence of others. A powerful question will often require a respondent time for reflection. Avoid the tendency to offer advice or speak for others, without their permission or unless your help is requested.
- Remember, conversation is voluntary. Participants will play to the depth they are comfortable. It's OK to defer or pass in response to a question. When they're ready, people will stretch beyond their comfort zone.
- Have Fun! Laugh at yourself and with others.
Stanley Scott is a conversation guide, master facilitator and creator of the new non-competitive conversation game, Talk In A Box.