safety and trust in the groups is an ongoing concern of effective
facilitators. When trust is low, little effective work gets done
as the needed information is usually withheld or poorly expressed.
In this weeks article, "Creating Safety and Trust," we
explore several simple tips you can employ to open up your groups.
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live format to interested organizations. If your corporate culture
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help get the ball rolling. If you have a client that might be interested
in this, contact us for the possibility of teaming up on it's delivery.
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Have a great week!
One of the
most often quoted concerns group leaders have around group process is
that of establishing safety and trust in the group. When fear and restraint
rule the day, our emotions are in charge, and our mental capacity drops
accordingly. Further, when trust is low, people are unwilling to share
what they really think and feel. Expressing the things we are afraid to
share often yields the specifics information we need to solve a problem
or to make a necessary change.
What are some things we can do to create safety and trust in our groups?
Below are a few possibilities. We'd love to hear other approaches that
have worked for you in the past.
Set the Stage. Do your homework with your customer and
interview as many participants you can prior to your group meeting to
get an idea of where current trust issues lie. Often, trust of the boss
is the biggest issue. If so, work with them up front to explore ways to
improve the situation early in the group process.
emotional risks. Model risk-taking as the facilitator by sharing
something of yourself. This generally means taking the risk of exposing
some of your own thoughts and feelings, especially ones that often donít
get voiced in groups, like fears and anxieties. Then open space for participants
to express their concerns and fears. Thank and encourage people for taking
risks. If "trust of the boss" is the issue, as discussed above,
the boss may have to be the first to take risks to make it safer for others.
Enforce ground rules. Ground rules, once set and agreed
upon by the group, are useless unless they are enforced. Enforcing ground
rules intended to create an open and safe space will do just that. Fail
to enforce them and you'll not only minimize the safety felt by the group,
you'll also lose their trust as a facilitator and guardian of the process.
This means that it's your job to respectfully but firmly confront a participant
who isnít living up to a commitment theyíve made to the group, such as
violating a ground rule.
your body language. To begin to establish trust with group members,
smile, make direct eye contact and relate and build report on a person-to-person
basis. Keep an open and relaxed body posture (no arm crossing or hands
in pockets). Also, consider sitting with the group when it's appropriate
to step out of the leader role or to build rapport.
Show respect and patience. Model the behavior of truly
listening to others until you really understand them. It's rare that people
take listening this seriously and it's refreshing and trust-building to
do so. Don't cut people off but do redirect them when they're off course.
Acknowledge inputs that are off course and record them in a "parking
lot" to revisit near the end of the meeting.
Safe doesn't always mean comfortable. Part of establishing
trust means that we do what we say we're going to do. To accept anything
else from your group erodes trust in you, in the process, between participants,
and within themselves. Therefore, it's essential to directly and effectively
confront incongruent or dysfunctional behavior whenever it shows up.
Get people working together. Have the group do as many
activities as possible that require them to
work together in ways different than they usually do. Increase the risk
required during these activities as trust increases and the group warms.
These activities can assist people to temporarily move out of their business/corporate
roles and meet each other on a person-to-person basis.
Model functional behavior. It's imperative that you as
the group leader model functional behavior to be worthy of the group's
trust and to be an example for the conduct and skills that the group is
working on. When you make mistakes, come clean with them and you can often
use them as learning opportunities as well. Showing a group what not to
do is often an effective learning strategy.
Use appropriate humor. It's hard to feel fear when you're
laughing. Using humor that is relevant to the work at hand tends to make
people feel more open and connected in their shared laughter. Further,
appropriate humor can contribute to a free flow of information and rather
than waste time, can actually speed up your process.
Authentic. We know when people aren't being sincere. It's an
instinct possessed even by five-year olds. When people are insincere,
we don't trust people. So be real! Share something personal but relevant
about yourself that shows people you're real. Donít pretend to be bigger
than you are, nor smaller either. Show your humanity, admit when you're
wrong or make mistakes. If you don't know something, say so, then do what
you can to help find the answers. Be there as a partner with your group
to help them with the issues of the day and do what you can to make it
Be compassionate. Compassion makes it safe for others
to be honest and to risk sharing what they know, who they are, and to
try on new behaviors.
meet everything and everyone through stillness instead
of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer.
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