We recently asked our director, Malcolm, "What Inspired you to move into this work?" Here's what he had to say:
"I was attending a development event in big organisation as a participant. Early on in the workshop, a very vocal, oppositional, male Manager started challenging the whole “why-we-need-to-transform” business case and asking why-are-we-wasting-our-time on this type of program?
I recall watching this unfold and thinking to myself “Oh this will be interesting! I wonder how the facilitators will handle this?”
One of the facilitators, stepped forward and smiled at the gentleman and was curious and engaging, and she said to him “You seem to have some strong views about this. I am curious about your experience. Would you mind sharing a bit more about why you think the way you do, so we can all see this from your perspective?”
By this time she was standing quite close to him and clearly genuinely interested in what he was saying.
The participant started to tell stories about the last 3 “change programs” and the largely negative impact that they had on morale in his part of the business, and how everyone there had felt let down by Management.
By this time the Facilitator had pulled up a chair alongside him, facing the same direction as him (rather than in front of him, so it was more like they were going on a car journey together), asking him more constructive questions about his experience. Very quickly his oppositional energy dissipated as he was respectfully listened to.
The Facilitator then asked him, “so from your experience what pitfalls do we need to avoid in this program and what recommendations do have to make it successful?” His comments were then captured on a flipchart by the other facilitator. The Facilitator thanked him for his helpful input and program resumed the agenda.
A new “norm” of listening, respect and safety had been established in the group. I sat there amazed, thinking “Wow! I want to learn to do what she just did! That is an amazing skill – to literally disarm an angry “opponent” through respect, grace and curiousity, and help him share his wisdom and get him engaged in the program! All in about 3-5 mins!”
I realised that we as facilitators have a choice to see all participants with compassion and non judgement.
Curiousity is key - what caused them to become cynical?
How can we all learn from that?"