Suggestion One – Start a conversation by identifying the nature of your groups
I can almost hear you ask … A conversation? How do you do that? Well, assess your group. Do you have a friendly group? They could get a bit chatty so tread carefully on the whole bonding thing. Perhaps they are a guarded or ‘anxious’ group? Take a couple extra minutes before you jump in, no need to rush. Trust me… using a few extra precious moments up front, before you set in to the business at hand, will serve you well in the end. Then there’s the hostile group – hmmm, why do you think they are hostile? Are they sad, scared, and/or angry? Listen for clues to figure out the genesis of their hostility – is it something directly related to the topic at hand, your client, the industry that you’re discussing? Or is it bigger than that? Maybe things have changed in their geographic area/within their company and it’s affecting the respondents around your table. Validate their anger, sadness or fear, give them a moment (just a moment!!) here and there to air their frustrations and continue to stay the course. This is the type of group you can’t manage with precision (or an iron fist) because flexibility (and kid gloves) is the only way to get them to open up. In fact, if you try to shut themdown, you’ll practically hear the clicking of the mortar shovels building up those walls.
Don’t be fooled
So, you have groups which are friendly, anxious, hostile, and then, on occasion just an easy going group. Oh, that’s great you say, right? No, there are potholes here too. An easy going group can be complacent and complacency leads to the following; leaning back in the chairs, doodling (and not necessarily the productive kind), day dreaming, etc.
More ‘techniques’ to follow throughout December…my little way of spreading the holiday ‘giving’ throughout the entire month. Happy, happy, merry, merry and a HoHoHo!