Insights & Outcomes
The Conversation Circle: Creating opportunities to tap into our collective wisdom.
It’s a source of stress, excitement, embarrassment, joy, shame, fear and anxiety. It can breed family tension, cause fights and ruin friendships. Or it can be how you express gratitude, support others, and create something meaningful. It can make you jealous of your peers (or your peers jealous of you). It may even be how you were taught to measure your success at work and in life.
We’re talking about money. And we all have complicated relationships with it.
Our emotions and money are deeply interlinked, yet money is still a very taboo topic for many people.
But how can we solve a problem if we don’t talk about it?
How can you make very personal decisions —asking for a raise at work, buying your first home, lending money to family, you name it — without talking about it?
How can you benefit from the collective financial wisdom of women who’ve already gone through what you’re going through, who understand how you feel and want to help …. if you don’t talk about it?
These are the questions and challenges we’re striving to solve with our series, “Insights & Outcomes: Conversation Circles for Women.”
What is a Conversation Circle?
Insights & Outcomes is a series that The Humphreys Group has been hosting for over five years. Our Conversation Circles provide an opportunity for women to have authentic discussions about money — our fears, our successes, our memories, and the attitudes, behaviors and legacies we’ve adopted over the years. We won’t be talking about spreadsheets or investment strategies. Instead, the Circle is for learning from each other and from ourselves.
How is a Conversation Circle structured?
At our Conversation Circles, we listen and provide each other support constructively and nonjudgmentally. Our circles consist of a group of 12–15 women sitting together and talking about money and everything that goes with it.
Each Conversation Circle is guided by a specific topic, such as “Let’s Get Curious! What’s Your Money Story?” or “Navigating Difficult Money Conversations with Loved Ones.” During the two-hour event, we also participate in activities like writing exercises or breaking into pairs to share experiences or discussing research on the topic to put it into a broader context. And we always end our circles with food, beverages and more thoughtful conversation.
What are Some Example Topics?
We are continuously developing new topics for our circles as they emerge from our conversations. Here are some example Conversation Circles we have hosted over the years:
Let’s Get Curious! What’s Your Money Story?
We all have scripts that run in our heads, either consciously or unconsciously. At this Circle, we set aside our judgments and self-recriminations and examine the stories we tell ourselves about money. What’s working that we can enhance? What aspects of our stories are so frustrating or repetitive that they need a rewrite? We consider with unrestrained curiosity how our money narratives are helping and hindering us.
Navigating Difficult Money Conversations with Loved Ones
Whether it’s with your aging parents, your closest friend, your children, partner or your beloved hairstylist, being able to have honest and authentic conversations about money is important. When the topic is difficult, it takes some courage, and some preparation. At this circle, we talk about simple strategies and useful concepts to approach money conversations in a way that is both soulful and productive, and we share some of the lessons we’ve learned in the trenches.
What’s Your Worth? The Art of Advocating for Ourselves
If you’re like us, you know that it can be easy to go to bat for someone else or to negotiate on their behalf. But why is it so difficult to negotiate for ourselves? At this circle, we explore how to identify our own side of the equation: what is my goal, what are my needs, what do I want from the other side? And we take time to acknowledge our “net worth” beyond the numbers — that is, everything that we bring to the table, even if it can’t be quantified in dollars and cents.
Fiscal Unequals: Finding Common Ground with Friends and Family
We are all blessed with resources and gifts in our lives, not all of them financial. But even when we are intently focused on the interpersonal aspects of our relationships, money can get in the way. What do you do when you’re invited to that trendy — and expensive — new restaurant that is over your budget? On the flip side, when you have more resources, do you reach for the check more often than not? How does it work when you’re willing and able to pay more? How do you talk about it? At this circle, we share our experiences on both sides of this divide and develop strategies to find common ground and balance.
Who’s in Charge: Your Head or Your Heart?
Many will say that emotions do not belong in the world of financial planning and goal setting, but we beg to differ. While it’s true that your rational side surely provides necessary planning and direction, engaging your emotional side delivers energy and passion. We have seen that when they work in tandem, change comes easily. At this goal-focused circle, we utilize both our instincts and our intellect to define our ambitions and inspiration.
What’s in Your Resilience Toolkit?
When it comes to intense physical challenges like running a marathon, compared to men, women often do a better job pacing themselves, can quickly adjust their behavior and expectations to accommodate changes in the course, and are more likely to offer and seek support with one another to reach the finish line. As you can imagine, we utilize the same strengths when handling emotional and financial obstacles. At this circle, we explore those strengths together. We discuss how we right ourselves when we wobble and share practices we can use to develop our capacity to bounce back, and even build a reserve.
How Much is Enough?
Financial advisors are asked by their clients all the time: How much is enough? How much do I need? As is often the case, the answer is: It depends. It depends on a lot of things including, firstly, our assets, income and expenses — that is to say, our lifestyle. It also depends on our mindset. At this circle, we consider how powerful cultural messages work to convince us that we don’t have enough time, money, focus, talent — even that we ourselves are not enough. We unpack the impact of these messages and share practices in shifting our mindset from a place of scarcity to one of sufficiency.
Join Us at a Conversation Circle
We continue to be inspired by the impact that a group of women, talking together, can create. We have seen, time and again, that self‐reflection begets self‐knowledge, which in turn boosts self‐confidence. Such conversations lead women to engage more confidently with their financial lives, improve their relationships and feel good about money once and for all.
Are you interested in participating in a future Conversation Circle? Want to partner with our team to host a Circle of your own? Contact us today.
It’s time we talked about personal finance beyond the numbers.