We don’t mean to deceive ourselves but we’re all so accustomed to doing so with others that it can become an unconscious reflex. Embellishing or withholding our whole truth becomes a habit. This habit is reinforced socially (as in “I’m just trying to be nice”), politically (as in “politically correct”), and personally (as in “I’m just fine”). We often get stuck or off track in our lives because we delude ourselves in the name of expedience. Getting honest with ourselves and others often results in an obvious impulse to change…and if there’s one thing humans resist, it’s change. One of the most powerful things you can do as a facilitator, after you perceive the possibility of a lie, delusion, or incongruence is to gently check your perception with others.This can open up a whole new world of possibilities.
Pierce the Facade
Imagine that you are facilitating a team building session with a group of executives who are having problems working together. None of them can put their finger on the issue, but they talk non-stop about their individual problems that are occurring as a result.
Each of them can’t wait to make their case and they often interrupt each other to articulately express their point of view. You find yourself tempted to buy in to their story and quite frankly, you’re a little intimidated by the brilliance and charisma that each executive displays in stating their “case.”
But deep down, you sense something is off. You feel intimidated and you smell their need to be right pervading the atmosphere. You also see that their communication and relating style is not a recipe for successful teamwork. What do you do?
It’s time to simply stop the group and share your experience. “As an observer of this group who you’ve asked to help you overcome your problems as a team, I have to share my experience with you right now. It seems that each of you are pushing your individual agendas and ignoring each other. Is this the kind of team you want? If not, how do you want to show up for each other?”
The next time you have the opportunity to facilitate or even participate in a group, listen carefully for what’s being said, not said, and how it’s said. Try “reading between the lines” so to speak. You might even be so bold as to share your perception in a clear but diplomatic fashion. Make sure to own your own feelings and to share your insight without judgment. This may take some practice, so try doing it to express something positive that you observe first.
I’m interested in hearing what happened if you’ve tried this with others. Please share your questions, feedback, or experience on this topic in the comments section below.