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Seb Anthony

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What about the discussion openers?


From my point of view these could be a very tricky point as the participants (or most of them) seem to be a little reluctant to reveal their feelings and behave in a rather defensive way. Sometimes they even do not hear the question or answer in a perfunctory way which comes to say that feelings are not a matter of group discussion. On the other hand it could be expected that people's defence may lead to some manifestation of verbal agression that could spoil the game by turning it into a "battle field" (luckilly, I have no experience with this type of peple but I think it's not an inpossible scenario...) So, to sum up, is it realistic to expect that such questions (especially when placed as openers at the very beginning of the discussions) could lead to a constructive and meaningful conversation (and interpretation as a result)? Or are there any strategies to put them without "handicapping" and frustrating the participants?

Thanks in advance for your time!

2 Responses

  1. Why?

    not sure what training you are delivering that requires delegates to reveal feelings? Is it some sort of emotional intelligence training?

    Not all delegates are kinesthetic.

  2. Hopes, Fears, Expectations
    It’s how you structure the discussion that counts.

    Do bear in mind that at the start most people are reluctant to be the first to bare their souls, so give them some support! Here’s a good way to do it.

    Divide the participants into pairs or small subgroups (max 6 per subgroup), and provide each pair or subgroup with a flip chart sheet and pen.

    Ask them to write a list of their –

    A) Hopes
    B) Fears
    C) Realistic expectations

    for the discussion/activity/day/course etc that is to follow. Then ask them to nominate a spokesperson to present the pair/group’s flipchart to the whole group.

    Encourage an atmosphere of fun, and do make sure – once the discussion/activity/day/course etc is over, to go back and check off against these lists how many hopes, fears and expectations have been met.

    You’ll involve everyone in building a supportive climate for learning, and also build evaluation into your learning design, so that participants can check that their experience has been a success.


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