The Art of Hosting

(from a question in another thread of conversation):

Hi Linda,


Soft Shoe Shuffle is an exercise/process developed by Myrna Lewis of Deep Democracy. I think the name comes from a group she first did it with who were wearing no shoes, just socks, and it became known as the “Soft Shoe Shuffle”. We tend to call it a “Moving Conversation” these days.


Fundamentally it involves a groups standing around and someone makes a statement, typically in response to a powerful question put to the group. When someone makes the statement all other people either move towards that person if they agree with it, or move away from the person if they disagree with it. People are strongly encouraged to move around. The facilitator/host identifies the people who have moved furthest away and ask them what their view is. Again people either move towards or away from that view.  The “heat” or energy of the conversation can be turned up if the facilitator/host amplifies the statement. This is where the statement is extrapolated. For example someone might say “Sometimes our work is not very high quality” and that could be amplified to “Sometimes the quality of our work is shit, and it’s just not acceptable”.


Sometimes these conversations resolve into a statement that everyone can agree with and sometimes they highlight polarities. It is then possible to work with those polarities with some sort of conflict resolution process.

It can be a very powerful process and very often draws views into the conscious arena, allowing them to be dealt with in a constructive way.

It’s also great fun!

Others might have different experiences and ideas about it and I’d love to hear about them.


Stephen Duns

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Addition by Alan:

Thanks Stephen. Its a very dynamic version of the Moving Debate I use in my Youth Work Trainings.
Id comfortably say all teenagers involved in Youth Work in Ireland have experienced it at some stage.
Both ends of the room have a name, One is AGREE the other DISAGREE. The middle is I DON'T KNOW YET. Everyone stands in centre of the room.Leader makes a statement,people move to the end of the room they closest associate with.The role of those with strong feelings is to convince the undecided people to join them. Anybody is free to move at any point.

Main difference here is that you spend longer discussing each statement from an AGREE/DISAGREE perspective rather than continuing to move each time somebody says something.

Thanks for sharing. Subtle changes can make a big difference.


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