- 3 felt wool circles (small, medium, large)
- table of contents and instructions
- 101s bookmark
- stress ball as speaking token
- 2-5 stone figurines
- emotions wheel
- intention-setting sheet
The story of the 101s Conversations That Matter kit
For the Conversations That Matter Kit, we put together tools we developed or adopted over time for various difficult conversations that we needed to have. The first one was the intention-setting sheet, which we designed for a workshop on the topic of difficult conversations in 2021. It’s around the same time that we adopted the wonderful and underused emotion wheel, promoted during self-care workshops. Then, we created the emotion circles and figurines (at first, they were Playmobil characters 😄) in the context of a community process in the same summer (wow, quite the creative summer, come to think of it 🤩).
In this last process, because challenging behaviours and patterns were coming up for many of us, we knew that emotions would be central to any resolution we could come up with as a group. We wanted them to be expressed and heard, but we also knew how difficult it can be, for so many reasons (e.g., have you ever been called ‘sensitive’, like us, when expressing emotions?). And we wanted a way to let everyone in the conversation express how they were feeling without having to interrupt the speaker. And so we did! It was so fun to choose a character, and then play with arranging it in “the emotional space”, around the others.
Putting our emotions on the table. Like, literally 😉
Sometimes, the emotional circles will do work for you even when it’s not used: by placing it near the speakers, and choosing a character to represent our emotions, we’ve already altered the physical — and symbolic — space to signal not only that we are aware that this conversation could be emotional, but also that those emotions are welcome here. Sometimes that is enough!
Then, the act of moving your little character around, maybe even naming it, giving it a story (is it just a part of you, for this conversation? Is it you from a specific moment in the past — or even in the future?) can bring up the curiosity, lightness and playfulness for the conversation to leave you feeling more connected, better cared for.
We can also indicate, with our characters, that we’ve had enough for now, that it would help to be asked how we’re feeling, or that we need a break. The safer circles are just a tool; as you incorporate it into your own conversations, you’re going to find your own way of using it. (Speaking of which, please do share how you’re doing it: firstname.lastname@example.org)