Exploring the potential for regenerative conversations

As you might have gathered, I’ve been thinking about the nature and importance of conversations for some time.

I suspect we have both a restoring and a redesigning job to do in this space between us.

Restoring the importance of conversations, not only as a means to an end, but as an end in itself.

As human beings, we have a fundamental need for connection and belonging – for relationship – and to be affirmed by being seen and heard. Without this, so much goes to waste without our realising it.

Yet, I wonder if it’s also time to grow and mature our conversations. We’ve become so used to their being places of transaction and extraction.

I wonder what we’ve traded to get the job done? And what is the job anyway? To answer the question or find the solution? Is that all?

This is an anaemic view of the potential space between us that no longer serves us well.

It takes humility to realise that we need each other in this way. And we also need a view of the world that isn’t only about us and ours, or just human-centric. We need grace and courage to step into this circle, not as those with answers, but to stand with others in living the questions (Rilke).

In this space, the lens of regenerative conversations takes on new meaning.

This isn’t about finding our way back but about creating a new path forward. Together, with hope.

Beyond sustainability

A growing body of thought and practice recognises that sustainability doesn’t go far enough. This isn’t about steady-state maintenance or achieving some kind of balance within an existing way of doing things.

Instead, we need a more dynamic and integrated way of seeing the living wholeness of the world. Of recognising we are part of a dynamic system and not separate from it. And neither are we divisible from each other.

Regenerative conversations are able to have the kind of elasticity that recognises impact and implication: on people and living systems that aren’t ordinarily in our view.

They can sit in the unknown and unknowing because we do not inhabit a world of control and certainty. Especially now.

However, I recognise that these are not conversations we are used to. We’re familiar with heading to a destination as quickly as possible. We haven’t been schooled in living the journey for the long haul.

Yet, now is the time to explore the new. And I know some people are ready to do this. They know they cannot go back to the old ways.

So might regenerative conversations be particularly fruitful for those of us who are in transition? Who are exploring significant shifts in work or life but don’t want to do it with blinkers on?

And could they be fertile ground for a different kind of conversation about the significant challenges we are facing?

And be a healthy and life-giving space for those who are not rejuvenated and inspired by the way we currently conduct conversations?

Regenerate – from the Latin ‘regenerāre’ – to bring forth again, to re-generate. Regenerative is the act of regeneration, especially of that capable of producing life and enabling it to flourish.  

Regenerative thinking

For those interested in digging deeper, the RSA has launched a new programme: Regenerative Futures. Josie Warden, Head of Regenerative Design at the RSA, has produced an excellent introduction: What does ‘regenerative’ thinking mean?