A colleague related a story about how a participant in a course she was taking was disruptive to the rest of the group. In this case, the participant kept taking the conversation off-track and onto a topic that was not relevant to the agenda. After allowing others to comment and answering several questions, the facilitator delicately steered the conversation back to the original topic in order to cover the rest of the material in the time that was left.
In an effort to ensure all course participants have time to comment and ask questions, our facilitators must be vigilant when it comes to time. It is helpful to gain everyone's agreement early on to follow a few group process guidelines. Examples include:
Limited use of electronics during the course or meeting:
It is understood that people must stay in contact with their co-workers and both make and receive phone calls to keep up with their work. However, it is disrespectful to their fellow classmates to be on the phone talking or texting non-stop. People attend to engage in a robust discussion and exchange of ideas. That cannot happen when they are distracted.
To have a meaningful conversation, people must feel free to speak candidly. They cannot do so unless their peers agree to keep confidences.
Arriving on time and returning promptly from breaks lets everyone take full advantage of both the course material and networking with other professionals.
Courtesy during meetings or training:
Participate actively. Don't dominate the conversation; spend more time listening. Avoid interrupting others and engaging in side conversations.
Putting these agreements in writing and posting them in the room can help people hold one another accountable. Everyone's time is valuable and everyone deserves respect. What other guidelines do you and your colleagues observe?