Talking Circles

Open and conscious communications are essential to the development of supportive groups and high performing teams and our Talking Circle workshops follow a well defined path for deepening connections and making balanced decisions in a way that is respectful, peaceful and highly effective.

Also known as Sharing Circles, Peacemaking Circles or Healing Circles, Talking Circles are an ancient method that indigenous people around the world have traditionally used to facilitate open dialogue and resolve conflict.

All too often well-intentioned meetings, discussions and focus groups can break down or be ineffective due to our modern western approach of top-down hierachical leadership. This can result in quieter voices not being heard, differing opinions becoming more deeply entrenched, disharmonious relations and low group morale.

First Nation elders know that group communion and interconnectedness is key to the tribes learning, strength and overall performance and embedding the practice of Talking Circles into your organisation or community group can not only help you to survive in a world of uncertainty, but to thrive in a way that is inclusive, ethical and sustainable for the long-term.

Benefits include:

  • Improved communication
  • Deeper listening
  • New connections
  • Knowlege sharing
  • Collaborative learning
  • Self-exploration
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Conflict resolution
  • Stress reduction
  • Remove barriers
  • Increased creativity
  • Better understanding
  • Positive supportive culture
  • Mutual understanding and respect
  • Increaded harmony and kinship
  • Multicultural awareness
  • Group cohesion
  • Consensus building
  • Increased productivity
  • Boost morale
  • More collaboration

The practice is subtle but can be very powerful indeed, calling on each individual to share their thoughts, feelings and perspectives in a way that is honest, open and for the benefit of the group as a whole. By using a talking stick, feather or other significant object, each person is given the opportunity to talk in turn but without any obligation to do so. As each person speaks the rest of the group listens attentively without interruption, comment or judgement. At the end of each turn the talking stick is passed clockwise and the circle continues. When everyone has spoken the combined source of collective knowledge is rich with information that would otherwise likely have been missed.

Key questions or problems can be considered at the start of each Talking Circle as a way of directing the theme towards a particular matter or the circle can be used as an open forum allowing for anything to arise.  The talking stick may pass round several times, providing each individual the opportunity to reflect on what has been said and to speak from the heart. The Talking Circle ends when the stick passes around the circle one complete time without anyone speaking.

The use of the circle itself is highly important and represents wholeness, completion and the cycles of life itself. It is no coincidence that the circle is a dominant symbol that is to be found throughout nature and it’s use is key to achieving balance and harmony on our planet, in our workplaces, our communities and in our lives.

Mutual respect is central to the effective use of a Talking Circle. To individually and collective get the most out of this powerful learning experience, speaking one’s truth  and being respectfully heard is absolutely essential.

Talking Circles should be facilitated by a “Circle Keeper”. This is usually an Elder or an experienced practitioner who will hold the space with honor and allow everyone an equal opportunity to contribute.

Group size
Group sizes vary and the time allowed for each Talking Circle is dependent upon the number of people involved. In our experience and that of tribal councils group sizes between four and twenty work extremely well.

Depending upon the group size and the number of ’rounds’, Talking Circles can last between 30-90 minutes. It is important to keep the energy flowing and with such a powerful learning experience we would suggest a series of Talking Circles for larger groups, that are punctuated by regular comfort breaks.

Please contact Us to discuss your requirements.