“I’m not here to entertain you.”

Posted by jlubans on October 30, 2018

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Caption: Cartoon by Edward Steed in the New Yorker magazine.

Have those admonishing words flitted through your mind when standing in front of a blank eyed audience? They have for me.
While most participants (say 80%) are open to learning and engaging with others, there are The Other:
The Empty vessel. Takes me back to how I participated in algebra class – pour it in, I do not need to understand it, just pour it in while I think of the “girl with the red dress on”.
Those “who have been sent”. Involuntary participants; the zombies of the workshop circuit. Their being sent is a “Hail Mary” pass by the boss hoping for a miracle. It’s never to be realized but the boss does put off for another day that dreaded “heart to heart” conversation with the “problem staffer”.
“This beats work”. Voluntarily there but not to learn; instead a well deserved day to switch off from a pest-of-a-boss.
The “Out-of-Towner”. Has plans to meet friends an hour before the workshop concludes. Returns 30 minutes late from lunch, after the afternoon segment – on team building - is well underway.
“Show Me”. The doubter from Missouri. If he gives you credit for any new idea, it’ll be a first.
“I don’t get it”. Applies a literal interpretation to every group activity. Forget analogies and metaphors. Unwilling or incapable of thinking in figurative ways.
The multi-tasker. Professes he can text and surf and read email and still be engaged. (He can’t.) Leaves frequently to take phone calls.
Those are some of the disconcerting and amusing un-participants I have met along the way in workshops and speeches.
No, I am not all hard-core lecture. I use humor in anecdotes and one-liners.
I minimize lectures. I promote discussion.
And, I seek to mix and match participants so they get to know each other and to engage in shared problem solving, to learn from each other.
My philosophy was (and is) that each person has a unique perspective that, when shared, can help others better understand.
I remember giving this feedback to one of the consortia that hired me as a free lancer.
The response to my bemused griping implied that maybe it was something more to do with me and my message than with the fee-paying participants.
Maybe.

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© Copyright John Lubans 2018

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