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How do you facilitate turn taking in community conversations?
Continuous Community Clue #007
"Turn-taking is a type of organization in conversation and discourse where participants speak one at a time in alternating turns. In practice, it involves processes for constructing contributions, responding to previous comments, and transitioning to a different speaker, using a variety of linguistic and non-linguistic cues"
Part of community building is helping people to belong. This is not about molding people into who we think they should be. It's about understanding that they are here for a reason. And that the people who show up partly identify with the work we are doing.
In that sense, it becomes easy to know that the people here have at least one thing in common. That part of them may want to belong with us, but equally, they belong to themselves, with their own identity, experiences and needs.
As community people, it then becomes essential for us to facilitate the opportunity for members to take turns in speaking. Communities thrive when we celebrate all the nuances of our humanity. It's not about who is right or who is most influential. It's about the ability to share, to be listened to, and also to be accepting of whatever it is we share and care about.
Allowing people to 'take turns' gives people the opportunity to open up in ways that everyone can learn from.
Turn-taking sounds silly and too simplistic
It's something we were taught as a child.
"Wait for your turn!"
It almost sounds incredibly silly and simplistic to say we need to 'allow turn-taking in community conversations'. However, it's a real problem. People everywhere feel like they are unable to take their turn.
the environment is too overwhelming
they don't know where to start
they don't know if they can add value
they feel their time is not worth it
they need to be asked
they feel intimidated
no one has their back
they prefer async to live
they are unsure of the rules
they can't see anyone else like them in the room
they don't identify with the conversation
they have invisible disabilities
This is not a complete list, but hopefully it's enough to give understanding and get you thinking of how it may apply to your community.
Design taking turns into your community
The challenge then comes, how can you design 'taking turns' in your community?
The opportunities are potentially endless, here are some ideas to get you going:
invite people to a speaking gig
invite people to an AMA
tag someone in a conversation
link to what people have already written
recognise when people are dominating
identify lack of diversity and address it
create different levels of conversation opportunities
host small group conversations
offer async contributions
ask people how they would like to contribute
pass the mic, quite literally
turn-taking is not just with 'speaking', it is with all types of Community Generated Content, we participate in many ways within community
As with all things community, don't let it stop at the point of the 'taking turns'. Make sure you listen to what people are saying and find ways to take action and explore based upon what they share—this is what will bring the eventual community growth.
Turn-taking - Wikipedia
Why Is Conversation So Hard for People with Autism? - Very Well Health
The Neuroscience of Taking Turns in a Conversation - Scientific American
Turn-taking in conversation - Conversational Leadership
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