Carolyn Browne Tamler

has helped hundreds of businesses and organizations with her thoughtful facilitation and research services. She also writes colorful and compelling articles about new business initiatives! Would this help you? Call Carolyn today!

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    9-6-12 Creating a safe space for constructive ideas

    Several years ago, I was asked to do a planning workshop with two naturopathic doctors and a receptionist to assess how things were working in their office.  With only three people I didn’t understand why they didn’t just talk with each other.

    During our workshop, the receptionist timidly mentioned that she didn’t know what to do when one of the doctors was running late for the next appointment.  The doctors were surprised that she had never brought this up to them.  The result was that a specific policy was developed to deal with the situation.  There were several other small policy and operational items that were also discussed and most problems were resolved.

    What I have learned in my years of facilitating workshops, discussions and public meetings is that, when asked, everyone wants to contribute and share and know others are hearing them.  Often, the smaller the group, the more difficult it is to express a concern because there is a fear of saying something that will be hurtful or expressing an opinion that might be seen as “dumb.”  We humans seem to come packaged with an extreme need to be right and an extreme fear of being humiliated.

    The main criterion for any group process is to create an environment that is safe and fun.  Safety comes from establishing simple rules that require participants to honor the opinions and ideas of others that are expressed and to encourage sharing in a way that is light and maybe even a bit silly.  Have you ever had someone “order” you to come up with a creative idea or a solution….and then found your mind had gone completely blank?

    I believe we are most creative and energized when our thoughts are encouraged to come freely, with no time limits or imperatives.   And, creativity is supported when we know that we can present an idea or opinion without fear that someone may criticize us for what we say.

    Other Blog posts relating to encouraging collaborative ideas:

    7-26-12 Creativity is sometimes easier within a group

    5-17-12 Another great example of collaboration

    4-5-12 Collaboration is a great tool for building business

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