015: Say more than “Thanks”
A good deal of facilitation is asking questions, gathering opinion
and hearing from others. Your participants share perspectives, thoughts and ideas throughout the projects and trainings. If they don’t – you’ve poor design.
All these inputs are tiny snippets of their personality, insight and values. For those guys, offering opinion can be exposing. It’s not just throw away comments. So acknowledge their responses with much more than a ‘thanks for sharing’.
Low rent facilitation only says ‘thanks’ and moves on.
Your participants’ comments are potentially useful for other members of the project group as they can assist personal connections and learning. It is your role as facilitator to put those comments into a common context from which everyone can benefit. For example:
Taking an observation from a participant and framing as advice for all: “..Thanks Claire, good spot, well done. Always take a reading from both ends of the equipment as you’ve noticed a slight difference.”
Taking a personal experience and suggesting it as a technique for others to try: “..Martin, thanks for sharing. It seems when you faced forward you got a sense of balance across the front of the ski. Let’s all give that a go on the next 200m shall we…”
You can take a question you don’t know the answer to as an opportunity for people to own their learning: “…truthfully, Dave, I don’t know. I’ve tried it both ways and the project still stalled, but it might be different this time, let’s check-in tomorrow when we’ve landed five more ideas.”
I remember it as a three-way thing. Say thanks, say their name (so it’s personally acknowledging their contribution) and do something with their comment with good intention for all.
It was my good friend Chris who told me this and got me to try it out in a live project when I was starting out. It’s been good advice. Thanks, Chris. A good deal of learning has come from your instruction. I hope you see here how it’s getting passed on.