Tips, Videos, Handouts, and Other Stuff

Light hand on the tiller

Good Group Tips

In principle, when the sailboat is nicely trimmed; that is, the sails are set perfectly for the wind and direction of travel, the skipper can have a light hand on the tiller. The tiller is what steers the boat, connected to the rudder. Ideal sailing is no pressure on the rudder and no need to hold the tiller tight.

Often groups sail almost by themselves, with perhaps a facilitator, leader, or supervisor on watch. When there is little tension, one can lead passively by making sparse but meaningful comments, by writing summary notes on a screen or flipchart for all to see, or by simply being present and providing security.

When wind and waves are turbulent and quickly changing, when there is tension, the group leader needs to be more active and hold the tiller tight.

Practical Tip: As a group leader or facilitator, steer no more than necessary. Trim the group according to wind (group energy) and direction of travel (desired outcomes) and keep a light hand on the tiller; but never so light that it will get away from you if there’s a gust.

– Craig Freshley

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Name

Good Group Tips

In principle, to name is to understand. It’s huge. It is key to solving problems and resolving conflicts. When just the right words are used to name a situation, a perspective, a feeling, it can bring instant relief and instant forward progress. By leaps and bounds. Naming the problem is over half way to solving it.

Practical Tip: Name situations, perspectives, feelings; that is, describe them in ways that ring true. Do not avoid thinking about a hard problem or conflict; rather, think about how to think about the problem or conflict. Give it a name.

Name things without judgment. Name things out loud for others to agree or challenge. Name things with honesty and integrity, not to mislead. Be open to names suggested by others and open to re-naming.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

A way to talk

Good Group Tips

In principle, in order for people to avoid conflict there has to be a way for them to talk. When in tension with someone else in my group, rather than talk with them directly, it is easiest to assume a superior position and take steps to prove my righteousness. It is also relatively easy to propose changes to the system in which we both operate: new rules, new policies, new ways of doing things that I think will make the tension go away. But both of these approaches create conflict and/or burden for my group.

Sometimes the barrier to direct communication is of a mechanical nature such as language or physical proximity or connection. But most often the barrier is our own fear about having a hard conversation. We don’t trust ourselves to say the right things or react the right ways. We are afraid that in a one-on-one setting we will lose the battle we are trying to win.

Practical Tip: Don’t view tensions as battles to be won or lost but rather as shared problems to be solved in shared ways. Before doing anything else, seek first to find a way to talk with those who are part of the problem.

If there are mechanical barriers to talking, work to fix them. In today’s world, going to war because one party can’t physically communicate with another is no excuse. If there are personal emotional barriers in the way, work to fix them. You are part of the problem; have a talk with yourself. Creating conflict or requiring your group to consider systemic changes because of your own emotional issues is selfish and inefficient.

And if someone else proposes a way to talk with you about a shared problem, accept the opportunity. Always talk first. Find a way.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.