Creating Space for Conversation

Creating space for people and creating spaces in which people can have conversations that matter is what I aspire to do. So it is no surprise that I read with great curiosity a number of articles in HBR last month about the open office space and the importance of ‘chance encounters’ and creating collisions between people that are enabling of creative conversations.

For me this is about creating a space in which people feel safe enough to have conversations that matter with each other. In particular for people to have leadership conversations that are about connecting not only with each other but also with ideas and thoughts that give rise, often, to even more questions whilst offering possible solutions that otherwise would not have been thought of.

I like to arrive in good time for meetings, in part so that I ‘arrive’ and am present when others arrive for the meeting.  And in part so that I can get a feel of the space and work out where is the best place for me to be sitting so that I can welcome people in as they arrive, usually this means sitting opposite the door.  My preference is always to be meeting in a room with natural daylight, with windows, it isn’t always possible and if not I am very conscious of making even more space during the meeting for people to get up, move about, and to get out of the room – ideally keeping the conversation going over a cup of coffee, or even better having a breath of fresh air together.

I do the same, only differently, when I join a meeting virtually.  Sometimes I can see others in the meeting, and they me, other times we can hear but not see each other.  Either way I like to know where they are located and get a sense of not only space but place.  For me it is often the first connection, acknowledging where we are physically which is all part of building the relationship with and being present to each other.