IAF Methods

Treat Cynicism Seriously

by for . Last edit was about 2 years ago
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Interventions to use when participants are cynical

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These are interventions that can be used when someone says something like "You know, we've been involved in loads of these facilitated sessions. We get all fired up, share our ideas, then we get back to our "real" jobs and nothing ever gets done...."


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1. As the facilitator, I acknowledge the statement, and ask the group how it is going to make things different this time.

2. Sometimes a context is necessary: "The future is informed by our actions in the past, but we are not doomed to do things the way they were done in the past." Or, "In order to make sure our time we've spent together here is worthwhile, we need to make sure our resolve is going to make a difference."

3. "What are each of you personally going to do in your "real" day-to-day activities that will make sure that we succeed?" And I make sure that the person who raised the question answers it with the others.

4. Sometimes I have people write down their commitments for themselves, starting with "I will...." Sometimes I go around the room and have each person declare their commitment out loud.

5. I also often suggest that there be a regular "check signals" mechanism in place for mutual accountability -- a way to celebrate accomplishments and acknowledge roadblocks in implementation, and to support each other to be successful.

6. The key is in giving the group both the hope and the responsibility for making a difference.


Follow-Up Required: check to see if plan is implemented.

Potential pitfalls: group agrees with the cynical comment

How success is evaluated: group creates ways of dealing with the substance of the comment


Source: Jo Nelson

Derived from: unknown

History of Development: unknown

Comments (1) ( 4.0  avg / 2 ratings)

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  • Not so much a method as several possible interventions. The difficulty is in being conscious of your own impatience and frustration as a facilitator, and listening for the wisdom behind the cynicism.

    over 3 years ago