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How we Meet and Why it Matters: Priya Parker on the Art of Gathering

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Politics and Prose

Humans are naturally social animals, but convention and routine have made many of our gatherings stale and meaningless, at least according to author Priya Parker. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Parker, founder of Thrive Labs, about her new book The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters. Parker shares tips for how to use your next gathering to cultivate community and bring people together in meaningful ways.

Parker believes that clearly defining the purpose of a gathering can transform meetings, conventions, backyard barbeques, and even funerals.

"The first question to ask in every type of gathering, the more habitual the more important to ask it, is 'why are we meeting?'" Parker says. "It [begins] a conversation to say when do we need to meet, why do we need to meet, and if we don't need to meet let's cancel the meeting."

"A purpose doesn't have to be serious. Your purpose can be 'I'm exhausted, I'm most happy when I'm with these six friends, I need to spend time with them.'"

The purpose of your gathering can also be shaped by who you invite, how many people you invite, and the size and atmosphere of your setting. Guests can change the dynamic of a room but can also "stage a kind coup" to help a group find its focus. 

"The more specific a gathering can be, the more people can know how to show up," Parker says. "Specificity transforms gatherings."

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Lindsey Moon is IPR's Digital Producer