Safe space, great sharpies

I like getting feedback, it helps me calibrate and assess myself. It requires me to be continually objective about what I do and the impact I have. I tend to say that it keeps me “honest”. My work is almost entirely by recommendation which is another form of feedback. I openly state to prospective employers that I’m only as good as my last piece of work. That way I’m driven to do my best every time, no lazy formulaic approaches or coasting on content.

Working mainly in the field of emotional resilience and health I’m used to tears in the training room. I’m able to sit with others in their distress and feel no need to fix them or solve their issues. Even when its a room full of people all being affected at once I can cope with that, even if that sometimes means I shed a tear myself. It’s about being human.

Which leads me to the title of this blog post. That title was my feedback after a recent course. This was a training which involved some pretty challenging material and was about peer support. When everyone arrived I could sense the apprehension, the distrust and the defensiveness of the delegates. As we got to work I asked them what they wanted to get from the course, what classic trainer methods I should avoid (they were relieved to find no powerpoint or role-plays) and what they wanted to give to the course and their colleagues.

That was when the change started, suddenly they realised that they had “agency”, the power to act for themselves.

As the day went on, conversations ebbed and flowed, exercises were completed and the room took on a different feel. Where there had been apprehension there was now anticipation, distrust changed to trust and defence disappeared to be replaced by warmth. The delegates spoke openly about their challenges and how they could support, indeed wanted to support their colleagues.

So what did I bring to the day? Well I certainly didn’t bring much content or any specific expectations. I’d say I brought some positive assumptions about the delegates being able to cope and support each other. They said I provided a safe space and great sharpies – I’ll settle for that.




About Jon Bartlett

I'm a coach, blogging on things that occur to me, that I want to share and any other fun stuff I find lying around in the real world.
This entry was posted in Coaching, Resilience, Work. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Safe space, great sharpies

  1. …a safe space and great sharpies… Haha

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