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If you want to start a good group discussion, pose a well thought out question:
If you could change one thing about your management style, what would it be?
What accomplishment are you most proud of this month?
I’ve found it helpful to plan ahead and craft my questions ahead of time. That’s because in the moment, I may not phrase it quite right which can cause some confusion.
If the responses you’re getting in the discussion are too “on the surface,” help your participants go deeper with these encouragements:
Would you expand on that?
Tell me more about that.
Sometimes you may want to split your group into smaller groups for an exercise or have people work independently for a while. Either way, it’s up to you to end these sessions and get the group back together to continue the program. The challenge with this is that some groups and people move at a faster pace than others. Here are two techniques to help:
1. Give a 5 minute warning. “We’re going to complete this exercise in 5 minutes.” Or “Have your answers on the whiteboard in 5 minutes.”
2. When time is up say, “Welcome back everyone.” Most people will give you their attention. You may have to wait a few more moments and try it again for the rest to realize they need to hush up and focus back on you, “Welcome back.”
It can be challenging to keep a session on target if there’s a participant who tends to take over the discussion or is long winded. Participants look to us – the facilitators – to deal with this. To create balanced participation, you could try two solutions. First, give limits to sharing:
“In two or three sentences, let’s have each person give their opinion on…”
“Each group will have 5 minutes to present their ideas.”
The second option is to speak to that participant during a break:
“Thank for participating so much. I’m noticed that a few people aren’t sharing. I’d like to make sure everyone gets a chance. Would you help me by letting others in the group have an opportunity to join in on the discussion?”
Question: How do I deal with a well meaning participant who is going down the wrong road, without embarrassing them, but also letting the group know that the answer is not correct?
Option A: Rather than ask the whole group a question, you can ask an individual that you think will answer it the way you hope. “How would you handle this, Marla?” “What are your thoughts about that, Dave?”
Option B: If a person volunteers an answer and they’re on the wrong track, don’t be reactive. Instead, try responding as if all is well and ask, “does anyone else have a different approach?” Hopefully, the answers you’re going for will surface. Then you can diplomatically say, “Between all the answers I’ve heard, I think we’ll have the most success trying Donna’s option. Here’s why…”
Option C: When the participant offers an answer on the wrong path, you can handle it directly. “I hear what you’re saying, and I’d like you to consider a different approach…”
A group facilitator helps kick start conversation and creates a safe environment for open dialogue. A good discussion can begin with a well thought out question. Let’s talk about two types of questions:
Open Ended and Closed Ended
A Closed Ended Question can be answered in just a word or two: How many years have you been at your company? The participant can answer, “Five” and no conversation ignites.
An Open Ended Question invites a longer answer and encourages discussion: What was your experience like as a new hire at your company? This questions invites the person to tell a story.
To engage your group in a discussion, present an open ended question.
I think I’d like these comforting words to be my theme for 2012. Because at this time of year, I can get pretty intense with plans for January and beyond. Do you get that? And that intensity can have an insidious message lurking underneath – you’re not good enough exactly as you are.
So yes, I want to grow as a person and professional in the New Year. I also want to temper these desires with K.C.T. – Kindness, Curiosity and Trust.
If you were to pick your theme, what might it be? I’d love to hear.
That’s it for December! Thank you for joining me here each month. It’s an honor to be included in your life.
On Thursday morning two weeks ago, I called my colleague and friend, Terrence, to congratulate him on his upcoming role as President of the local chapter of our training association. Just like Terrence he called me back right away. That afternoon, he was working out, collapsed and died.
Here. Then not here.
My mind couldn’t make sense of it. I called my mom and realized how lucky I was that she was there to pick up the phone and talk to me. It’s been a strange season and a sad time.
This note is about keeping a cool head during the trickiest financial month of the year. There can be a lot of pressure to close one’s
eyes, dive into the fizzy, spending frenzy and emerge with a fiscal hangover come January. With a bit of planning – even just a few days from December – we can bring ourselves the pleasure of a more peaceful, centered holiday.
Consider a quick spending plan for the month. Here’s how:
- Take note of all the usual expenses – food, gas, utilities, etc.
- Add in those special holiday costs such as gifts, cards, postage
- Whip out a calculator and see what the numbers have to say
When I do this, I ask myself, “Is my spending and earning in balance?” If not, it’s time to make some adjustments. Can I earn more? Can I spend less? How can I get creative to make this month work?
What are your tips for holiday solvency and serenity? I’d love to hear them and would be happy to share them.
Here are a few tips about preparation. You will hear me mention WIIFM. That stands for “What’s In It For Me?” This is a great question to consider when preparing for a tough conversation. What does the other person stand to gain by hearing you?
A huge thank you to Terrence Wing at Liquid Learn for his steady camera work. You’re a generous, friend, Terry!
My first feature film recommendation.
Update! To see the film on iTunes, it’s $10. Worth it!