Six principles of conversation

principles of conversation 2995911291_cfba89e806While reading Margaret Wheatley’s lovely book turning to one another I ran across the six principles she has “learned to emphasize” before beginning a conversation:

  • we acknowledge one another as equals
  • we try to stay curious about each other
  • we recognize that we need each other’s help to become better listeners
  • we slow down so we have time to think and reflect
  • we remember that conversation is the natural way human’s think together
  • we expect it to be messy at times

Six principles of conversation. I’m especially taken by her third principle. We can’t listen by ourselves.

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4 thoughts on “Six principles of conversation

  1. Adrian! What a wonderful, wonderful post. Love the idea of establishing about these six principles in any relationship. The one that gets most overlooked, I think, is the second one. Too often, people forget that questions are a critical part of any ongoing relationship. Thanks for posting!

    1. Glad you liked the post, but we have to give the ultimate credit to Margaret Wheatley :-).

      What’s been interesting in the responses posted on Twitter is that different principles resonate with different people. Perhaps our responses are a mirror to the work we have done or need to do on ourselves.

  2. Hi, Adrian!  If folks are looking for other examples of ground rules or “agreements” to use in group discussion and dialogue, we have Meg’s and about 10 others posted in the NCDD Resource Center at

    1. Thanks Sandy, it’s great to be able to see all of these ground rules in one place! (For those of you who don’t know them, NCDD is doing important work on dialog & deliberation—process sorely needed in so many places these days. Check them out!)

      Here are some other posts I’ve written about ground rules:

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