Come out of your head and feel!

Only one factor is certain nowadays: change.

Everything is constantly changing, rearranging around us day by day. Our world works in a way that those who are able to adapt are more likely to come out well from change.

When a situation is unfamiliar to us, uncomfortable, or possibly downright unpleasant, we often do everything we can to avoid, or at least suppress, the bad feelings about it within ourselves. We are defending ourselves. We lock ourselves in our heads and make theories that support our reactions. We rationalize, explain, argue, or simply distance ourselves from the experience. What will certainly not happen as a result of this is learning. We don’t integrate the experience, we don’t accept it for ourselves, so we don’t have anything to learn.

But without learning, how can we adapt?

Helping professionals try to promote exactly this learning in individuals and groups. For this reason, it is essential for them to be at the forefront of learning.

A successful facilitator does his/her best to implement a well thought and prepared process so that the group arrives at the best possible solution as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

It is not completely painless, because during the reflections and recognitions of the group, it is necessary to identify inappropriate functions and systems, which can lead to unpleasant feelings for individuals or even the whole group. The realization that we made a mistake in my experience is not euphoria swinging around, but most of the time shame, guilt, or at least remorse. If we suppress these unpleasant feelings within ourselves, there will be no taking responsibility or learning, which is why no change can be expected in the end.

When leading groups as facilitators we have to be prepared for difficult situations when we know that these not easy feelings are necessary for change.

How can you know that the participants are just locked in their heads and resisting?

  • They’re trying to make excuses, an explanation begins
  • They block, blame others (e.g. the manager, the company or the facilitator)
  • They evaluate everything immediately (e.g. “it’s good, it’s not good”, “it can be done, that cannot be done”)
  • They are silent, but their body language reveals that they have a different opinion

Through workshop facilitations, we can use a variety of approaches to help groups get out of their heads, finally take responsibility, and feel. Here are some proven methods:

Create a safe environment

It is essential to define frameworks in which the ‘unspeakable’ can be discussed and the points of view can be honestly put on the ‘table’ without injury. To achieve this, we need to create and accept rules with participants that provide protection and security for everyone.

Name it

The very first step to dare to take on our feelings is to become aware of them. The facilitator also has a huge role to play in helping to identify the group’s feelings. The more accurately we know what is going on in the group, the easier it will be to find a way out.

e.g.: „Do I feel right that the direction in which the conversation has turned is causing tension in many of you?”

Keep distance

We practice compassion in such a way that while in one moment we feel the group, in the next we become aware of our own reactions. The stronger is the emotional reaction that we have, the less insight we have into the situation and, of course, its solution. When we are too much affected by a particular event, we should intentionally step back in the situation and look for other perspectives to keep our vision of the situation.

Allow yourself

The facilitator is also just a person. And as a person, you can make mistakes. If we are able to reflect on these mistakes ourselves and view them as our most valuable part, it will serve as a nutrient-rich soil for our learning seeds.

Love your mistakes! Appreciate that along with your better self, they are also part of you, as without them you would be still tumbling in one place. If you accept your imperfections as a facilitator and at the same time you are aware that the participants also need to contribute appropriately to get the best possible result, then most likely no one will be disappointed.

Veronika Wieland