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From the very start of such a session, set up at least some of the following "Core Agreements" or "house rules for this session," to make it easy for you to swiftly and gently guide and focus or refocus your people into, through, and out of highly involved, highly interactive "buzz" sessions:
1. Waterglass Rules
Three 'bings' = Instant pause in talking.
2. Relevancy Challenge
Rule: in that instant, whoever is speaking must (1) demonstrate how his/her remarks relate to the topic; or (2) return to the topic; or (3) yield the floor. Instantly. (How many times have you been reluctant to shut off someone's story but had to stand there bleeding internally while s/he got further and further off the subject and broke the context?!?)You can see how, with just a little simple pre-arrangement, major group dynamics can be set in motion or stopped, directed and focused, how you can orchestrate them to maximum effect in terms of learning or of meeting the goal. Simple arrangement of easily used hand signals as standing rules or agreements allows you to orchestrate a wide range of group behaviors virtually without effort or delay. On the same principle, from time to time you may want to set up these special-occasion rules for particular situations.
3. On-Task Pointer
4. Support-First Rule
Rule: No matter how off-the-wall an idea or input may seem at first, the first response to it must be some form of meaningful, content-related support!After that meaningful first support, then it's okay to carve that weird notion into corned beef hash, so long as the support came first. To use this rule effectively, simply put it in this form:
Any time you observe an idea not getting supported first, whether yours or someone else's, clasp your hands together over your head for a second or so while looking wistfully upward, then go on.
5. Three-sentence limit
6. Make Record of the Run-Pasts!
Rule: Anything you notice that seems worthy of mention, but which the group process (or lecturer!) has stampeded past make a written note or record of it, immediately!So reinforce your own perceiving of overlooked aspects, not merely that particular point. And clear the traffic jam in your perceptions between thinking about what you have to say and giving more attention to what others are saying now. And if others also follow this Record Run-Pasts Rule, your inputs when you do get to make them will receive attention.
Sometimes there is a chance before the end to pick up some of these points and consider them but the main purpose of this rule is to reinforce your own perceptiveness and integrity of view. Any time you notice someone else seething with an overrun item, point to his or her notepad and waggle pen or pencil at it.
The original, more spiritual meaning of the Namas-Te gesture from India was, "The Divine in me greets the Divine in you." In broader secular use here, establish the context and meaning to be, "The genius in me (or us) recognizes and salutes the genius in you!"
Using this is a very splendid concept. Considering the powerful natural Law of Effect ("you get more of what you reinforce"), this can become a very powerful positive tool and resource, for both sender and receiver. Where a group or a class establishes this as a very special-occasion gesture not lightly used, careful not to cheapen it or use it routinely, but where all spontaneously follow suit pointing the hands toward the contributor, after the instructor or another participant has appropriately so signified, this can become a very powerful experience.
By following these dynamic-format procedures you are, in fact, likely to get more and more high-quality responses from your participants, several or more of which may well deserve this salute.
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