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The Six C’s of convening constructive conversation


publicconversations.org. Printed with permission from Essential Partners.

Be clear about your reasons for reaching out, what kind of conversation you have in mind, and what you hope those involved will have experienced by the time it ends.


Invite your potential conversation partner(s) to join you in making key decisions about the conversation, including the timing, location, and topics you will (and won’t) discuss.

Careful Communication 

Decide together what agreements to make about how you will and will not talk to one another.


Decide together what questions are likely to surface new information that will be of genuine mutual interest. Ask questions to learn.


Discuss what commitments will strengthen mutual trust. For example, to stay until the end, to honor requests to keep what is said to yourself or “off the record,” to “hang in” to the best of your ability, listening even to what is hard to hear. (Courage might have been a 7th C.)


Say what is true for you, your views, beliefs, and experiences. Refer to the views of people who are not present with caution, if at all.

(Originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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