Community Bookshelf Special
The Art of Convening:
Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations
by Rachael Mae Ferber, Community Bookshelf Manager
The Art Of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations
by Craig and Patricia Neal
Paperback, 2011; ISBN[masked]; 5.5 x 8.5 inches; 192 Pages
Sometimes, in my life, I have been in a place where conversations naturally feel meaningful and positive, both with people that I know well and people I barely know at all. I have tried to cultivate this sense of openhearted connection in myself, but struggled with naming what exactly I was doing differently in these interactions versus my standard discussions.
Craig and Patricia Neal have really nailed it with this book and the concept of Authentic Engagement, which is described as a genuine expression of what is true for us, and an attentive listening to what is true for another, or others. They use the model of the Convening wheel, which can easily be adapted to any kind of meeting or conversation, whether or not the other participants are using it.
The center of the Convening Wheel is, appropriately, yourself and knowing yourself. The idea behind this is that unless we know who we are, there is nothing real for others to connect to. The challenge for this aspect is staying connected, remaining open to the people we are with, and not being distracted or closing ourselves from the discussion. From there the aspects include Clarifying Intent, The Invitation, Setting Context, Creating the Container, Hearing All the Voices, Essential Conversation, Creation, and Commitment to Action.
Each section includes discussion on the aspect as well as the essential challenge to achieving it. I found the challenges really helped define the idea, for example the challenge to Clarifying Intention is doubt, in which we may believe that our underlying motivations do not matter as long as we don't admit them to ourselves or others. Even more valuable, this book includes supremely accessible and do-able exercises and journaling questions to strengthen the habit of authentically engaging.
I can see myself doing this work, and I don't always feel that way with a book that includes exercises.
The Art of Convening has meant a lot to me lately as I have observed myself not listening well enough to people that I care about. It is both grounding and insightful; as I read it the effect is as though I have always known these things. The tenets ring true and it is valuable to see them explored through the lens of some authors who obviously have a great deal of experience and expertise. They offer real life examples and personal tales that keep the reader engaged as well as fleshing out the principles. This book is a quick read and one that you are sure to refer back to again and again!
On sale this month for $17.00, a 15% discount from the usual price of $20.00!
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RR 1 Box 156
Rutledge MO 63563
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