As facilitators, we are naturally observant and insightful when it comes to assessing group dynamics. Still, we are human, and being human we filter available data through our lenses of biases, experience, and conditioning. With every observation we make, we can only make inferences as to what’s really going on. These inferences may often be right on, but not always. We’ll serve our groups well by always remembering this. This idea is even more important when making facilitative interventions as a participant from within a group.
Armed with these insights, you might be tempted to ask, “So what?” To which I’d reply, “That’s the spirit!” The spirit of curiosity that is. For example, tell me, how would you respond to the following two scenarios if you were on the receiving end?
OK, I can see what’s going on here. You just don’t respect each other much in this group. Once you get past this, you’re group can move forward.
Hmmm, let me check something out with you. It seems that most inputs shared in this group are met with criticism. What is this about?
As a group member, how would you respond to each of these interventions? Let’s look at their differences. The first one comes across as a foregone conclusion, the second as an inquiry. An attitude of sincere curiosity is innocent and usually more pleasant to relate to. An attitude of certainty leaves little room for exploration. Among the top coaching skills my friend Thomas Leonard used to teach was one he called, Navigate via Curiosity. This is a perspective that also serves group leaders quite well.
So how does one Navigate via Curiosity in a group?
Navigating via curiosity is actually more of an attitude than a skill. Your comments will come mostly in the form of questions asked in a neutral or innocent tone. You’ll come from a place of sincere curiosity, realizing in fact that facts are only perceptions that we’ve stopped questioning.
A useful tool that can help you come from the perspective of curiosity was offered by my friends Dike and Peg Drummond of www.SuperTeams.com. They suggest using the Columbo persona to probe a group, especially when you’re trying to influence it from within.
For those who grew up post “70’s”, Columbo was a detective character played by Peter Falk in the nighttime series “Columbo.” Columbo was an unassuming and seemingly absent-minded character. He dressed in sloppy clothing, drove a dumpy car, smoked a fat cigar, and seemed to ask the most innocent and naive questions, usually in passing. His trademark move was to spin around on his way out the door at the close of an interview, rubbing his brow, saying, “Oh I’m sorry. If you don’t mind, there’s just one more thing that I just don’t understand….” Columbo’s disarming, humble, and innocent attitude, always got him the answers he needed to solve the most difficult cases.
What if you were to navigate via curiosity to help your groups solve their most difficult cases? What, if anything would you have to change in your attitude or approach? Oh, and there’s just one more thing that I’d like to ask. What, if anything would you have to change about the way you see yourself as a group leader?
So now’s your chance, answer these questions and send them to me. I’d love to hear what you come up with… What if you were to navigate via curiosity to help your groups solve their most difficult cases? What, if anything, would you change about your attitude or approach? What, if anything, would you have to change about the way you see yourself as a group leader? Please share your questions, feedback, or experience in the comments section below.