Safety in Courses

Creating safety in a training weekend like the gestalt weekend I followed is of high importance.

In fact I think it is important in any course. For me as a trainer, the start and the end of a course are the most important parts of a course.

It is incredible how many trainers don’t care about safety.

For weekends about gestalt, were people talk about their own feelings and what happened with them in their life, every body understands that is needed. But even in the .net training’s I gave at U2U, I made sure I increased safety.

If people don’t feel safe, they will not ask questions. They will be scared to look stupid.

Creating safety is not easy, but a few simple tricks can get you already very far.

  • Be honest. If the trainer is lying about something and the students find out, it’s over. And believe me they will find out. (F ex, tell your students honestly when you don’t know something.)
  • Create a time for everyone to tell it’s name, and his personal story. Write down some key info about everyone.
  • After that round I make sure I use everyone’s name in the next hour.
  • I ask a lot of questions myself; To create an environment were questions are OK.
  • When you take pictures , make sure you ask if everyone is ok with that.

==>This last tip is very important, I have seen people shutting down completely, because someone walked in with a camera.

Frank used some other techniques that are only usable (and needed) in “personal” courses.

After the introduction round. (which also took a long time) he asked us to group together in groups of people of similar interest:

The first group I was part of, were all “the eldest child” in their family, other groups where the youngest, the middle…

We had to talk about how that position in the family had influenced us, how it made us who we were.Of course, we all had similar experiences.

Then Frank asked us to group with people who had young children/old children/no children
Next people who had a long relationship (I found out that next to our 10 years, only Ingrid beat me (with 32 years))

And a few more group talks like this.

The result is, that within an hour or 2, we has spoken with almost everyone, about topics that interest us

(Family, Relationships, children,…) and that we shared a a lot of idea’s and behaviors.

Shared in 2 meanings

  • we talked about stuff,
  • we agree with each other idea’s.

By lunch we were grown from a group of people, to a forming team

As a trainer I do the same, but less obvious, by asking questions during breaks or lunches.
As a Scrum master I do bring up discussions for creating an atmosphere.
At another client, that was all I did (My assignment was recreating a team out of people that did not talk to each other.)

Of course it helps, if you have a boss with behavior that does not breaks down safety.

With the workshops my father and I created for, creating safety is the biggest part of our teaching.