Have you ever facilitated a training session where every thing is going just a bit too smoothly? Everyone is sitting nodding their heads in all the right places and saying all the right things? But even though it's all going well, you just know there is something not quite right?
I had a session exactly like this a couple of weeks ago. I had just started running the day. We'd done the usual welcome, intro's, housekeeping and so on. We had completed the first topic, had a discussion around it. It was all going well... It just felt it was going a little too well, like people were paying the material lip service and not really engaging with it.
So, I found myself with a dilemma - do I carry on regardless, after-all the group did appear to be engaged at a surface level, or did I dig a bit and find out exactly what was going on with the view that by understanding the feelings and attitudes in the room I would be in a better position to facilitate real learning during the session.
I'll be honest. I did give it some serious thought (well as much serious thought as you can give something when you only have a couple of minutes whilst delegates are doing some reflection work to make a decision). It can open a real can of worms, especially if it's with a company/client that you don't yet know the inner workings of.
Of course, I chose to tackle the issue, or "tip the bucket" as it's often called. This is the technique of deliberately inviting negative comments, feedback or discussion with a view to tackling them and putting them to rest. It can be a great way of getting buy-in on a particular issue or
So, with a deep breath and the opening gambit of "so, tell me how you really feel about being here today", I derailed my session by about 40minutes. However I'd say it was time well spent. As well as helping me deepen my understanding of some of the issues my client is facing, it gave me a chance to address some of the misinformation that can spread through large organisations and at the same time get the group of delegates truly engaged with the purpose of the day's learning. All in all, on that occasion, it was definitely the right decision.
Have you ever chosen to "tip the bucket"? How successful was it and would you do it again if the same situation presented itself?