So Many Ways to Say Shut Up, So Little Time.

Reading Time: 1.5 minutes

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“I understand.”

“I’ve got it.”

“I think what John is trying to say…”

“Thank you.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh.’ (impatiently nodding head and waiting to speak)

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I’ve been noticing this in myself lately, the way I’ve adopted a conversational rhythm meant to hurry people along.  In my role as facilitator, I sometimes have a legitimate need to interrupt people, and I do, most often to ask them what the gist is.  “I’m having a hard time knowing what to pay attention to in all you’ve said.  Could you summarize it in a sentence?”

I find it hard to listen to an endless barrage of words and know what the speaker wants me to glean from it.  In the US, we give preference to people who talk a lot and often, believing it’s a sign of confidence and leadership.  It’s not, of course – it’s just extroversion.  Some leaders seem to have been taught that speaking is the same as leadership, so they start talking at the beginning of the meeting and don’t stop until it’s over.  These meetings rarely end on time.

Sometimes when everyone’s eyes are on me, I just start babbling, and I wish someone would interrupt me and ask that magic question:  What is it you are trying to say?  In those moments I need to be asked, because I’m running scared, talking because people are listening.

I want to interrupt these kinds of speech as an act of kindness and deeper listening.  I want to not say or be heard as saying “shut up,” but to be seen as asking to hear what the speaker really wants to say, even if they think it’s unacceptable.  Especially then.

In my quest I’ve noticed that “shut up” comes in so many forms, some of which are listed above.  I bet there are hundreds of them.  Do you struggle with this too?  Do you have strategies that work? Have you heard other ways we say “shut up” without appearing to?  Your comments are welcome.

One Situation, Three Kinds of Business

3 kinds of business: Mine, Yours and God’s

Mindset Mapping: Growth, Fixed or Mixed?

Icebreaker: What’s Your Rhythm?

Reading Time: 1 minute

Icebreaker Time:  10-15 minutes
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Here’s a drum circle technique you can use anywhere, even when you have to be really, really quiet.

1. Have a participant say their name, then tap our the rhythm of their name with their hands, either on the table or on their thighs as they say their name.

2. Have the rest of the group join in, tapping the rhythm and saying the name.

3. Ask the participant how it was to have everybody playing the rhythm of their name.

4. Ask others how it was to join in.

5. Do it again with someone else in the group until you run out of time.

6. (Optional):  Debrief with the entire group

Tips

  • Use first and last name (sometimes the first name is too short)
  • Use a word or phrase instead of a name. For example, a team could drum it’s values, one at a time, reflecting on what each felt like when played.
  • Vary the speed, volume or style, either by demonstrating or by asking questions “What would it sound like louder, quieter, slower, rock and roll style?” etc.

This simple exercise is a mindfulness meditation.  It gives participants a different way to simply accept and be touched by another’s offering.  In addition, having your name drummed by others can be a powerful experience. Drumming a word or phrase that has meaning for the team can be similarly powerful – it’s a way to sit with a word or phrase before deciding whether you agree or disagree with it.  Slowing our rush to judgement helps us become present with one another.