Monday, October 18, 2010

Facilitate ... with a pause

The concept of a PAUSE has popped serendipitously into my life over the past month. First, I realized that I have really taken a long pause from blogging! (That’s OK; I always promised myself I would blog when an idea inspired me! Obviously, I needed a time to pause.) Then, while researching creativity techniques for a workshop, I came across Pause for a Bit in Roger Van Oech’s Creative Whack Pack. ( Poet Doug King is cited as encouraging us to "Learn to pause . . . or nothing worthwhile will ever catch up to you." Van Oech says “Allow the Muse to whisper in your ear. How would your problem benefit if you paused in the next hour? Day? Week? Month? What might you gain or learn?”

Next, I was working with a Manager to design a one-day workshop for her staff team. She said to me that the team needed to pause from their busy schedules. During the workshop, one of the participants described herself as a “percolator”, meaning that she liked time to pause and think about topics and ideas; and let solutions bubble.

I decided that natural forces were sending me a message. I paused and pondered about the value of pauses in facilitation. I have always believed that it is very important for individuals in discussion groups to have “silent” time to think about a topic before they discuss it with others. I am now more actively talking with participants about the value of pauses, and asking them how they want to pause.

I am incorporating quiet moments, reflection time, mediation, gentle exercises, and solo walks in my workshops and meetings with the intent of pausing and thinking. In a recent workshop, one participant said to me, “I get nervous when I need to stop and think, and when no one is talking.” I encouraged her to practice pausing for a few minutes each day. Another participant led the group in a meditation activity.

My facilitation questions are, “How do you create the time and interest with participants to percolate ideas? How do you pause and help others to pause during group discussions?