3D Ideas 851: The Pre-Conversation

Claire writes: “We know, rationally, that trying to talk well to two different people about two different things at the same time means that we don’t have either conversation well.  The privilege I have of listening to people having conversations, is that I have noticed that’s also true when we are talking to one person.


It’s not unusual to have someone come who is angry, or upset, or overwhelmed, someone where we need to do some arriving or greetings before we can do the work.  So one day I came up with the idea of a pre-conversation, and drew it on the flipchart

If you’re the facilitator of the conversation, what’s useful about being clear that this is separate means that you can give good attention to the bit that needs to be done before we start doing the work of the conversation.  I am noticing more and more that putting a time boundary around that can make it even more effective.

That might sound like moving from

‘I’m going to tell you how much I have going on for so long that we never get any thinking done here and I get even more overwhelmed’ to ‘would it be useful to download for 5/10 minutes and then we will work out what we need to do today?’


‘Let me catch up on everything that’s happened since we last met that there is almost no time to move forward today’ to ‘would it be useful to take 5 minutes to talk about the actions you have taken/what you have thought about/ insights you have had since we last met?’

When we put time boundaries in, people still talk about feeling heard – and they know to give the ten minute version, and not the two hour version.  So there is plenty of time remaining to look forwards”

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