What do I or you or we want?

I’ve been doing a few Open Space events lately either as host or participant and I’m mostly thinking about this aspect: the challenge of giving expression to what we really want. When the marketplace for conversations is opened there’s this huge opportunity to put anything you want on the agenda and, thankfully, many people seize it. As a result, you get a huge range of interesting conversations. People ask for what they want, or see someone else’s offer and say, I want to join that.

Then again, I sense that a lot of people experience frustration, at least early in the process. I think that’s largely because in our over-stimulated world, there are lots of overt and coded messages telling us what to do. So when we’re invited to decide for ourselves, it’s harder than we might think. Often I’ll have side conversations where people express a vague sense of frustration with the process… and often I think at the bottom of that is something they really want but haven’t quite got round to asking for.

And lying in bed this morning, I realised that lies underneath a lot of the vague sense of anxiety I sometimes feel. Often, that can get in channelled into general complaints and rants about the state of the world. So maybe Harrison Owen is dead right in suggesting all of life is open space… and I need to keep practising finding ways to identify what I want and give respectful expression to it.

Just thinking out loud.

2 thoughts on “What do I or you or we want?

  1. Lloyd Davis

    This reminds me of a more esoteric version of the game Trish shared on Monday. In this version one person only asks the same question: “What do you want?” allowing their partner to talk for as long as they want on the subject, while maintaining as much presence in listening as they can and then asking again “So, what do you want?” this is repeated until the one talking is satisfied that they can get no nearer to the essence of their desire. (I’ve also taken part in another variation where the question is “What do you need?”)

    The idea is to gently move your thoughts away from form – we usually start with “more money” or “a new house” or “a new iPhone” and this process of maintaining presence and repeatedly asking and listening is a remarkably powerful key to not only unlocking what it is that we’re really after – perhaps a feeling of certainty, feeling at home in the world, or feeling part of something bigger but also to see where we’re “looking for love in all the wrong places”

  2. Anna Smith

    My husband used to work for a manager who called him ever so often and just ‘rambled’. Apparently, the manager used these telephone sessions to figure out what he wanted. Unfortunately, he wasted my husband’s time in the process…

    Lloyd – thanks for sharing that exercise. It makes so much sense!


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