Conversation Toolkit

Conversation Covenant:  Listen Well, Speak Truth, Be Peace

Listen Well…

¨  I will strive to listen to others with the intent to learn and discover more about them.

¨  I will strive to listen within, noting my internal responses to what is being said.

¨  I will encourage and honor my own and others’ questions. It is not my responsibility to analyze, fix, save, or advise others in the group.

¨  I will offer the gift of presence by turning off any devices that may distract others or me.

Speak Truth…

¨  I will THINK before I speak, aspiring to speak only that which is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind.

¨  I will speak for myself, in the first person, as I relay my experiences, feelings, perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs (e.g., “I feel …” or “I wonder about …”).

¨  I will share stories about my own lived experience. I may also describe why and how certain practices or rituals are meaningful to I recognize that the statements I make may not represent the views of a particular faith tradition nor do I speak on behalf of an entire tradition.

¨  I will feel free to remain silent and tell the group if I would like to pass.

Be Peace…

¨  I will observe time limits. I will arrive on time and not depart early. I will limit my response and sharing to the time allotted.

¨  I will refrain from side conversations or references to conversations with others in the group I know well.

¨  I will speak directly to a group participant if clarification about something s/he said is needed.

¨  I will maintain “double confidentiality.” What is shared in the group stays in the group. Moreover, I will not approach any of our group’s participants with feedback or advice outside of our meeting times unless it is asked for.

Other agreements…

Copyright © 2018 Journey Conversations Project


Contemplative Conversations Overview


  • The focus person will respond to the guiding reflection question (up to 4 minutes).


  • Other group members will then write a heart-awakening question for the focus person on an index card (1-2 minutes). Their aim is to deepen the focus person’s reflection rather than satisfy their own curiosity. Here are a few tips for developing heart-awakening questions:

Ask open-ended questions that begin with the words: how, what, where, when, “in what ways… or “tell me more about…” Such questions tend to evoke more robust responses as they cannot typically be answered yes, no, or in a few words.

Encourage the speaker to go a layer deeper—that is, to keep noticing and naming–what’s at the core or the heart of the matter for them (e.g., Tell me more about why waterfalls and springs are so important to you).

Pay attention to key words and phrases that seem to have particular energy and meaning for the speaker and incorporate his or her language into your question (e.g., What do you get jazzed about as you imagine taking the next step?).

Maintain awareness of another’s nonverbals and incorporate your observations into your question (e.g., I notice how your eyes lit up when you talked about seeing that animal for the first time).

Listen patiently as our deepest truths are often difficult to put into words quickly and continue to emerge over time. In some cases, sitting with another person in silence may prove to be the most generous form of listening.

  • Group members take turns reading aloud and offering their questions to the focus person (1-2 minutes).


  • The focus person selects a question to respond to in the presence of the group (up to 4 minutes).


  • As a group, pause together to honor and absorb what’s been shared before moving on to the next person (1 minute).


© Diane M. Millis, Deepening Engagement: Essential Wisdom for Listening and Leading with Purpose, Meaning and Joy (Woodstock VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2015), 81-2.


For more information on best practices for the sacred art of conversation, see Diane M. Millis’ webinar recording for Spiritual Directors International.