What's the Big Idea Behind Living Room Conversations?

By: Jarrod Russell

The mission of the humankind network is to strengthen our sense of shared humanity, across boundaries real and perceived, by learning to have conversations that connect. To help us fulfill our mission, we are collaborating with an organization called Living Room Conversations.

According to the organization’s website, “Living Room Conversations is a non-profit organization founded in 2010 [and] provides an easy structure for engaging in friendly yet meaningful conversation with those with whom we may not agree.”

Living Room Conversations are simple. Two hosts with different opinions on a specific topic each invite a couple folks to join them for structured conversation on the topic. There are many topics to choose from, each with excellent backgrounds and conversational structures.

The general structure of the conversation stays the same from topic to topic: the host and/or facilitator begins the gathering by creating rapport between attendees and then closes with takeaways as well as possible ways to go beyond the conversation.

The main part of the conversation tackles the topic at hand with questions that steer clear of opinions, debating facts and proving points, and instead seeks to keep participants focused on sharing from their personal experience and background, clarifying for others what in their life path has led them to where they stand today on the topic.

This is where the magic of moving beyond divisive viewpoints happens...

Moreover, conversation agreements and structural advice help to ensure a good experience and allow participants to get to know one another better, regardless of the setting (e.g. homes, coffee shops, churches, or online video platforms).

The humankind network is incredibly grateful to Living Room Conversations for sharing such an invaluable approach to improving civil discourse and community connectedness. humankind has already supported 6 Living Room Conversations throughout San Diego County, on topics ranging from Gun Responsibility to Opportunity Gap.

On March 31, 2018 humankind hosted an expanded, 21-person Living Room Conversation at the San Diego Museum of Man, with several tables all discussing their own unique topics. You can read more about that event here.

Regardless of where you live in the United States, humankind and Living Room Conversations urge you to start having these conversations in your community, either as a host or an attendee.  

humankind’s network organizes Living Room Conversations, so please make sure you stay connected to us by sharing your contact info if you haven’t already. We will keep you in the loop.