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Thread: Developing Flexibility and Stability in Nonverbal Behaviour

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    Default Developing Flexibility and Stability in Nonverbal Behaviour

    London Clean Practise Group, 2 Nov 2010, led by Penny Tompkins & James Lawley

    This activity was prompted by Steve Andreas' feedback on James' modelling of Robert Dilts. Steve noticed that he regularly gestured with his right hand and suggested gesturing with his left hand to see what difference that made.

    Also, we had often observed David Grove facilitating in many 'non-traditional' ways, e.g. lying on his back, while walking up a mountain, in a hot tub, while being massaged, sitting very far away from the client, etc. It was notable that David was able to maintain the quality of his facilitation skills regardless of his position.

    Therefore there are two aims to this practise activity, to have the:
    – Flexibility to use a wide range of behaviours while facilitating
    – Stability to maintain your facilitation even under unusual circumstances.
    Intro ....................... 5 mins
    Activity part A .......... 3 x 5-7 mins facilitation = 20 mins in total
    Small group debrief .. 10 minutes.
    Activity part B .......... 10 mins facilitation + 5 mins reflection/round = 45 mins in total.
    Whole group debrief .. 15 mins
    Explain purpose of activity.
    Total time 1.75 hours.
    The Activity
    Start by explaining the activity in general but not what is going to be observed.

    Part A - Facilitating naturally in groups of three

    Decide who is going to be in the role of client, facilitator and observer for each of the three rounds.

    Client is going to describe a resource, a skill or a quality they have that they like.

    The first Observers leave the room and are each handed a recording sheet (see below). They are told to record the facilitator's patterns of body movements, posture and expressions without letting the others see the sheet.
    Describe the facilitator’s patterns of movements of their:

    Hands / Arms


    Facial expression



    After 5 to 7 minutes (when the Observer has recorded several patterns on the sheet) stop the activity. The Observer keeps to the sheet and their observations to themselves.

    Swap roles.

    Second Observer leaves room and is told they will be observing something different but in fact they are given the same instructions as observer #1. (Hence the need to keep the recording sheet hidden.)

    Repeat activity for the second and third observers.

    The group of 3 discusses what they have observed.
    Each facilitator picks one or two new behaviours they will adopt for part B.
    Observer can make suggestions about the change of behaviours but facilitator has the final say.

    NOTE: that it is not about changing from a 'right' to 'wrong' behaviour – it is about doing something different and noticing the effect.

    Examples chosen by members of the group:
    - Sit back rather than lean towards client.
    - Use right hand rather than left hand to gesture.
    - Maintain a more open posture.
    - Reduce eye-to-eye contact and look at the location of the client's symbols.
    - Overtly gesture to client's symbols rather than remain very still.
    - Do not physically match the client's posture and movements.
    - Keep facial expressions neutral.
    - Maintain a still body rather than moving rhythmically, especially with the left foot.
    - Find other ways to acknowledge what the client says without head nodding.
    - Minimise gestures
    - Do not emphasise the end of your question with a gesture.
    Part B - Facilitating with the unusual behaviors in same group of three.

    Repeat the format of part A continuing facilitating the client to self model the same resource skill or quality.
    The Observer now becomes a coach. Their job is to support the facilitator to maintain the new behaviour and not to do the previous behaviour. Any intervention is best done nonverbally or with a single word so as to not interrupt the facilitation process.

    At the end of the facilitation the facilitator is the first give their reflections on what differences and they noticed in their facilitation while they were doing the new behaviours.

    Then the observer/coach and client give their reflections.

    Repeat for the other two rounds.

    In the whole group are each person says the most important learning from the activity.

    Ways to extend the activity.
    - Do the same exercise except using non-verbal voice characteristics.

    - Do the same exercise with verbal patterns, e.g. does the facilitator select the same kind of information for their questions (say nouns, visual metaphors etc.)

    – Do a mixture of verbal and non-verbal voice and body patterns, i.e. either a different type of behaviour for each facilitator (especially if the group already know the activity and therefore there is no surprise element) or advanced facilitators can be given one verbal, one non-verbal voice and one non-verbal behaviour to change.
    Last edited by JamesLawley; 05 November 2010 at 06:39 PM.

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