September 26, 2007

I never thought I'd say this, but ...

The solution-focused principle which was the topic of this post came in handy for me about a week ago. During a workshop on solution-focused coaching I started with an exercise in which I invited participants to exchange in a few minutes with their neighbor a recent experience that had been fulfilling and sparkling to them. It was a large group; about 70 people (working as mentors in schools). Within a matter of seconds the room filled with a cozy sound of chatter which was very pleasant to listen to. People were enthusiastically telling and asking each other about these good moments.

Suddenly I noticed that two gentlemen in the front of the room were just sitting there with their arms folded. They did not talk with each other and looked straight ahead. In a reflex I interpreted their behavior as meaning something like: "I am certainly not going to do this childish rubbish exercise... no way!" For a second or two I wanted to go to them and ask or tell them something. But, just in time, I remembered this and this and I decided to wait and to give them time and room to do and leave what they thought best. Then, I focused again on the rest of the large group and suddenly I could hear the cozy chatter again. After the exercise was over we proceeded with the workshop. One of the two men asked a few questions with a critical undertone rather at the beginning of the workshop. After that I have not really noticed them much.

At the end of the workshop many participants were very enthusiastic. The lady who had organized the meeting walked up to me with a smile. She said: "Did you notice that man in the front, who looked so negative? Well, he came up to me and he said: "I never thought I'd say this.... but I am actually going to try this stuff!"


  1. this is a concern for the facilitator also, to say in a solutions mindset and not allow your perception of other people to get in the way of success. As you mention these 2 men - you were not sure just created an assumption that they were negative. Yet, by not allowing yourself to focus on them and focus on the other 70 or so people who were "into it" you created a solutions environment.
    I am dealing with a similar concern in a workshop for 95 that I presenting this week.
    Thank you for the inspiration and reset.

  2. thx and good luck and much fun with that group!


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