I Want to Be in a Meeting Like That!

I Want to Be in a Meeting Like That!When I was called downtown to talk to Theresa Jehlik I wondered what that was all about.  She inquired about my interest in becoming a member of a new FIT Team.  I thought, “Sure, I guess I’m game for anything…”  I had already attended some meetings facilitated by Cheryl Gould and Sam McBane Mulford at Omaha Public Library.  I was impressed how confident and comfortable they were in their facilitator roles.  They acted like they had known us all our lives!  These “meetings” didn’t always seem like a “meeting” in the traditional sense because they weren’t!  By using games and activities to bring people together (I mean EVERYONE, even the traditionally shy and reserved people who never spoke), everyone was thoroughly engaged and loved it.  There was a great sense of play, camaraderie, and connection that made the time fun, memorable, and productive.  My staff who attended facilitated meetings returned to the branch more energized and shared the experience!  I want to be in meetings like that!  I want to help facilitate meetings like that!

Sam and Cheryl were masters at designing our learning experiences, going with the flow, and changing course when needed.  They were able to stop and talk about what was happening in the process so the whole experience was a learning experience.  I learned so much.  The FIT Team training made me want to be part of changing the meeting structure I am involved in at work, the community, and my personal life.   I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about this because it isn’t as easy as Sam and Cheryl make it look!  It is a lot of work.  This is where the FIT Team experience of working in small groups really helped.  We got to know each other, trust each other, and learn our strengths and weaknesses.  Although all of us have the same butterflies, we have the opportunity to brainstorm and design meetings together.  I feel confident that my FIT Team colleagues and I are already making positive impacts at work, in the community, and in our own lives.  We have each other as our greatest resource plus other resources that range from training tips to designing facilitated discussions /meetings.  Listening, being neutral, “yes, anding,” resolving conflict tips, and using tricks that engage EVERYONE in the conversation are already a part of my life.

This week I had two teens in my office that weren’t seeing eye-to-eye and couldn’t remain in the library under the current circumstances.   My Teen Specialist and I listened to each viewpoint.   My staff member then asked, “How can we resolve this?”  A miracle happened.  One teen made the OFFER.  He and the other person used to be good friends.   He really didn’t want to have a problem with that person.  Another miracle happened.  The other teen ACCEPTED the GIFT and apologized for any misunderstanding.  Both teens left with the conflict resolved.  I am thankful that my Teen Specialist has natural facilitative abilities.  My wish for 2015 is that he can be involved in the next round of Omaha Public Library facilitator training.  He would be an asset for the OPL team that helps our community discuss and, maybe even solve, issues big and small!

Posted by Joanne Ferguson Cavanaugh, Facilitator-in-Training

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