We have over 100 topics but if you can’t find one that fits the conversation you hope to have, you can build your own topic with these easy guidelines.
Tips to create your own :
Write an opening paragraph to frame the context of the conversation. Make it welcoming to people who hold differing beliefs. If you describe an position about the topic, be sure to give equal space to conflicting positions. (Our conversation materials are reviewed by a diverse group of partners with the intent to have the paragraph be clear and free of red flags that might put off readers you would like to welcome.)
Keep the questions for Round 1 the same. These questions help us get to acquainted with one another and discover our common humanity.
The “secret sauce” for Living Room Conversations are the open-ended questions in Round 2. Here are some tips for developing your own great questions:
- The basic premise is to offer an opportunity to increase understanding, not to create consensus, convince others, establish a rule, or decide on an action plan.
- Be curious. What would you ask if you didn’t have an opinion or position?
- Keep in mind that opinion-based questions generate debate (How/what should we…); experience-based questions (How/what did you do…) generate understanding.
- Be clear about your own position on the topic. Notice if you are framing questions that favor your viewpoint or disallow other viewpoints.
- Make your questions as broad as possible to give space for a variety of experiences.
- How did you develop your own perspective? What question would bring that out?
- Beware of including trigger words in your questions, like climate change, anti-___, rights and control. The Red/Blue dictionary is a great resource.
- Remember that “Why” questions tend to make people feel defensive; “What brought you to your position…?” is more welcoming. “Yes/no” questions need a follow-up: “What happened?”
We love hearing about the conversations you create! We encourage you to use our process to design and have conversations to increase understanding and connection in your community. We don’t require permission to adapt or create guides based on our model, but we do ask for attribution to LivingRoomConversations.org for use of any of our materials in part or whole.
Our existing guides come from partnerships with other organizations, staff, and members of the Living Room Conversations community at large. If you would like your guide to be featured on our website, you can submit it to go through our Guide Review Process. Email email@example.com for information around our criteria and please allow a month for the review process to be completed.