Being a facilitator one should know how important interaction with the group is. But to get it going…
For the first (and last) time in my career I was late. 5 minutes, not much, but late anyway. No big deal, I thought, expecting to find the group gathered around cakes and coffee outside the meeting room. Carrying my stuff and still in my overcoat I was in for my first surprise: No people at the coffee counter. Where the heck were they?
Entering the room I had my second surprise: the group of 20 academic researchers were all seated, U-shaped setup, arms crossed, clearly waiting for me to begin. Nobody said a thing and everyone watched me in anticipation.
‘OK, challenge’, I thought ‘let me show you what I’m made of’ and I started explaining I was late because of the unexpected traffic jam. At the same time I undid my coat and put down the stuff I was carrying. With my back to the group, hanging up my coat, I asked my first question of the day:
‘you must have the same experience, you know, traffic jams?’
The room stayed silent. Nobody responded!
‘Too fast’, I thought, ‘calm now, take your time, slow down!’
I slowly turned around, had a good look at them, took a chair and carefully put it right in the middle of the room. Still silent, I took all the time in the world to sit down, looked at them again and slowly repeated the question: ‘you must have the same experience, you know, traffic jams…’
I waited - it took 10 full seconds - and then one of them cleared his throat, looked me straight in the eye, and said: ‘Sometimes’.
And I thought ‘Always’. Always it takes two to tango but sometimes you’ll find yourself alone on the dancefloor if you forgot to invite a partner to join. My mistake.