What is the Soft Shoe Shuffle and what it is for?
The Soft Shoe Shuffle is an interactive dialogue based on a theme. Holding a dialogue means we can reassign meaning and process experiences and information. In this way, we can learn to understand complex matters. Through the Soft Shoe Shuffle we also increase our ability to think flexibly and dialectically: we look at a problem from different points of view.
The conversation is led by a neutral facilitator, preferably someone without too much personal interest in the subject or theme. In this dialogue form, use is made of all the available space. At the start, the group stands or walks in the space. Somebody gives a short statement with their opinion about the theme. Those in agreement go and stand behind them. Then another participant gives their opinion. Those in agreement go and stand behind them, etcetera. This allows you to see how the group thinks about something. A theme could be: ‘How did we experience the merger? What did we do well? What could we have done better?’ or ‘What do the results of the off-site meeting mean for us? What do we need to be able to address them?’. The theme could also be getting to know one another or working as a team. The Soft Shoe Shuffle is possible from 8 up to 300 people.
When can it be used?
The effect of the Soft Shoe Shuffle
The Soft Shoe Shuffle slows down the pace where a normal dialogue can sometimes go very fast. This makes us able to listen actively and empathically to our own words and to those of others. By reflecting on these, we can achieve a deeper level of listening: we don’t just listen superficially any more but generatively: space is created in which new ideas can emerge. Listening like this allows us to think in an innovative way. Staff members who regularly take part in dialogues develop respect, appreciation and trust. In addition, we learn to share leadership and it can break through the established order and ranks so that everyone can see what everyone is thinking; something which remains invisible during conversations at a table. We also get information which we wouldn’t have got without the dialogue, which allows us to make higher quality decisions.