The Power of Vulnerability

This TED Talk is one of the most viewed for a reason.

The Power of Vulnerability

As a Forum exercise, watch the video and have a discussion about it.  Particularly:

1.  How do you numb your emotions?

2. Which emotions have been numbed as a byproduct of numbing others?

3. With whome do you have poor connections, possibly as a result of avoidance of vulnerability?

Forum Tools at Work – The Value of a Single Word

One of the tools used in Forum is the One word open/close.  This tool has lots of value in Forum but did you ever consider its value at work?

Lets first talk about how and why the one word barometer is used in Forum. The specific question asked of the members is, “how do you feel at this moment in one word?” the truth is one word seems limiting to many people. This is particularly true when they are attempting to cram an entire thought into one word and that itself can be frustrating.  On the other hand, if that word truly reflected a feeling, that one word can tell an entire story. If I state just the facts about something that happened I’m only sharing a part of the story and I’m only sharing a part of my truth.

Consider the following example:  1. I have not seen or spoken to my brother in 15 years. 2.  I have not seen or spoken to my brother in 15 years and that makes me feel abandoned. 3.  I have not seen or spoken to my brother in 15 years and that makes me feel guilty. In number one we are simply left to assume how that might make the person feel and we may very well make false assumptions.  In example two, we are led to believe its the brother’s choice.  In number 3, we are led to believe a completely different story as guilt implies a responsibility and self-fault.

In Forum, these single words help the moderator to take a pulse of the group and to address issues of concern.

What about at work?  Really?  Is it weird to ask a co-worker, “how are you feeling?” Let’s consider the example above, can we really afford that big a miscommunication with the very people with whom we spend 40-60 hours a week? Furthermore, can we afford a misinterpretation because we are afraid to ask a simple word?  If we assume we understand, and we don’t that can lead to big problems.

Creating your own icebreakers

Ice breakers or other forms of short conversation starters can be a great way to introduce a meeting, and to go deeper and get to know each other better.

While you can find suggested topics in the Alumni Forum Services Resource Library or via Google, creating your own can be even more meaningful and engaging.  Here are three ideas to stimulate your own thinking.

Idea #1: My best boss ever was … and why…

When Tom, a former boss that I deeply admired, died prematurely due to cancer, I wanted to remember and honor him at my next Forum meeting.  I asked the moderator if we could do this ice breaker in Tom’s memory.  Not only did I get to share a little of Tom with my Forum, we all benefited from hearing each other’s memories of our best bosses.

Idea #2: The three places I would wish to have my ashes spread (whether or not I will be cremated)…

I recently read a Wall Street Journal article that reported more and more people were finding creative places to spread their departed relatives’ ashes, with or without permission of the owner of the intended final resting place.  This ice breaker provided a wonderful way to learn more about the significant physical locations in each member’s life.

Idea #3: My most memorable moment as a fan or an athlete was…

Our Forum happened to be meeting the day after the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup last year.  This prompted one member to suggest this ice breaker – a great introduction to members’ achievements (or disappointments), on or off the playing field.