Unhurried conversation with a talking piece

Next to paper and pen, my favourite online tool is a talking piece. I love using it in online conversations. It is magic. It creates ease. Sometimes silence. Certainly listening.

Everyone grabs an object that serves as talking piece. The one who shows his/ her object is the one who has the word for uninterrupted speaking (and thinking) time. When she/ he is done, she/ he puts the object down. It is time for the next person to ‘grab’ it and contribute to the conversation.


Interrupting each other - Listening to each other.
Interrupting each other – Listening to each other.

I made this drawing when I joined the Berlin Facilitators Meetup session about ‘enduring silence’. We talked a lot about the time in-between.

During the Meet-up Jutta Weimar showed us this wonderful video. Listen to Azumi yourself and how she explains the meaning of in between. 

In a conversation with a talking piece there are no overlapping and interrupting voices. The talking piece creates some time in-between. Moments of pause. The fraction of time it takes when one person stops speaking and puts the talking piece down and the moment the next person takes it up. It can be a few seconds or last longer. Silence. Nobody is talking. This can feel awkward at first. Over the years I learned to appreciate and even to savour these moments of silence. I like sitting with the words echoing and floating in the air.


This space of silence in-between our activities seems confronting but it is the gate to feel the truth. The words can only deliver a fraction of what we intend. In silence, we can tune into our unlimited power and unveil the truth.
Azumi Uchitani

The talking piece is a reminder that listening is as important as talking. It gives the rhythm in a conversation. It creates some listening space in-between two speakers.  I appreciate the turn taking because it is respectful. Many years back, I experienced the most respectful and most natural turn taking when I joined a group of young people with hearing impairment for a conversation. I will never forget this experience. I was touched by what natural, appreciative and thoughtful listeners these young people were. They turned to each other, reading from the lips and waited till the person had spoken. Each person had the time to say what needed to be said without interruption.


There is a lot going on when people talk. Much of the deeper meaning can go unnoticed.
Johnnie Moore

I find conversations with a talking piece more relaxed; it is much easier to listen and to think. Often the quality of exchange is different. Through the collective attention a different kind of atmosphere is created where the speakers build on each other and weave ideas together. Thoughts are meandering back and forth. I love this reflective process, the joint sense making and developing ideas together.

The talking piece is part of the Circle Practice, Unhurried Conversations and the Conversation Cafe. I use it beyond these practices in any online conversation.

Here the links for how these processes work:

Experience an Unhurried Conversation

Gesprekken zonder haast – Unhurried Conversations (in Dutch)
22 maart 19-20 uur – thema: kennis – intuïtie
13 april 9-10 uur – thema: nu – morgen
27 mei 9-10 uur – thema: stabiliteit – verandering
28 juni 19-20 uur – thema: online – offline
More information and registration here (for free!)

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