Clearing the Air

To maintain a trusting environment in forum, we encourage all groups to “clear the air,” raising any issues that may be getting in the way of open and honest conversation.  Our Healing Conflict exercise describes one way to do this.

However, during the early meetings after a forum’s orientation, it is often the case that the participants don’t know each other or simply don’t have a significant enough history to have developed a reason for clearing air.  Still it’s possible and probable that soon after a group’s formation issues will arise that require clearing.

Yet without practicing the process, members often are left ill equipped to handle these situations.

At the same time, it’s quite quit likely that participants have other unaddressed tensions in their personal or professional lives.  The following process will not only serve to teach clearing the air but it will also serve to help participants better understand these unaddressed tensions while providing a framework to address them if they so choose.

1.  After explaining the clearing the air model, give 5 minutes for participants to reflect on the following question:  who are the people in my life with whom I am not clean?

2.  Once everyone is ready, ask for a volunteer to begin.

3.  The volunteer (person A) is to briefly describe the situation(s) and who they will address.

4.  Person A addresses each person in the forum, one at a time, declaring if clean or not.  If not clean, person A is to use the name of the person with whom s/he is not clean and to role play exactly what s/he would say.

5.  Just as per the clearing the air model, the person being addressed are not to respond, until it’s their turn.

6.  Repeat steps 3-5 with the next participant.

7.  Debrief the learning.  Ask participants how it felt both as a sender and the receiver of the comments.

Bob Halperin

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