workshops work

025 - How can we foster positivity in vulnerable contexts? - with Paulina Santos Alatorre

August 21, 2019 Season 1 Episode 25
workshops work
025 - How can we foster positivity in vulnerable contexts? - with Paulina Santos Alatorre
workshops work
025 - How can we foster positivity in vulnerable contexts? - with Paulina Santos Alatorre
Aug 21, 2019 Season 1 Episode 25
Dr Myriam Hadnes
We can foster positivity in workshops on painful topics and in vulnerable contexts by creating meaningful exercises and teach effective communication.
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, I talk to Paulina Santos Alatorre, a psychologist, social worker, educator and conflict mediator. We talk on how we can foster positivity in workshops on painful topics and in vulnerable contexts - such as domestic violence, gender equality and with participants who face challenging life situations such as asylum seekers. 
Paulina was born in Mexico and has worked in Mexico, Uganda, Thailand but also in Europe. Her expertise is in mediation and conflict prevention. In the show, Paulina shares how she adjusts to different cultural and social environments and how she manages to keep positivity within the group. You will hear about different exercises on how to help participants communicate and connect within a challenging environment. 

Don’t miss the part when we speak about how we can use an outsider’s perspective to close and reflect on a workshop. 

You can find the main takeaways and value nuggets on the podcast webpage: And: Don't miss the next show: Subscribe to my newsletter or on iTunes or Spotify to get notified for new episodes.

Questions and Answers

[1:45] What’s your story? What made you travel the world to facilitate workshops and what brought you to Ghent?

[2:50] So what are the topics that you worked on? 

[3:48] To what extent would you adjust the framework of your workshop to the different cultures?

[5:42] What brings them into the workshop and then if they are not aware of their problem?

[7:16] What does dance trigger in participants?

[8:20] How do you then introduce the “real topic” – would you reflect on the activity?

[9:52] How do you maintain the safe space then when you switch the topics and is it possible to have a fun workshop on such a difficult theme?

[11:32] what kind of exercises would you use for that?

[14:29] How do you then make sure that everyone still participates?

[16:59] Would you have a workshop, a mixed workshop on domestic violence with men and women in the same room?

[19:22] And you mentioned exercises for learning better communication. Can you give us an example?

[21:16] How do you raise the awareness or this empathy actually for the points of view from other people?

[24:15] Would you use meditation in your workshops?

[27:21] How do you adjust to different cultural backgrounds, e.g. between Asia and Europe when addressing difficult topics?

[29:11] what is your favorite exercise?

[32:05] What did you learn from the children that you can apply to help adults?

[34:06] What did you learn from your workshops working with people at risk about the workshops working with leaders and managers.

[35:25] What is the difference in your way of starting a workshop when you work with on a leadership topic, for instance?

[36:49] From your experience, what makes workshops fail?

[37:38] what would be the moment that you realize, oh now I need the plan B

[38:31] How do you bring them back then into mentally into the room?

[48:18] What do you want a listener to remember from our conversation?

Related links you may want to check out:

Our sponsor Session Lab (affiliate link) 

Other shows we mentioned:

006 - What managers can learn from the clown - with Steph Kinsch

Connect to Paulina

Paulina’s website

Speaker 1:
So how can we make our workshops work? Join me on the quest to find out how we can effectively facilitate group collaboration. My name is Miriam Happiness and it is my mission to help you to make workshops work today. I have Paulina, Sandra Salato on the show and we talk about a totally different set of workshops. She's a psychologist and conflict mediator and an educator and she has worked in Mexico, in Uganda, in Sweden and in Spain and mostly on conflict prevention. So we have a conversation on how we can actually address these complicated issues and still a playful way that will create a safe space. So stay tuned to hear more about that topic.
Speaker 1:
Hello Polina. Hello Maryanne. I am so happy to meet you here today in hen in Belgium. Yes. Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for coming all the way. Yeah, thank you very much. And I'm fairly excited today to talk to you about facilitating workshops on difficult topics. Yes. And actually with people who face major challenges in their life. Yes, yes, me too. And your conflict resolution specialist, you have worked in many different countries. You are from Mexico, you're worked in, uh, in Thailand and in five other places. Yes. Actually maybe before we jumped into the topic, you can give us a little bit of context. So how did you end up here in gant? Yes. Yeah, we'll
Speaker 2:
first of all, thank you for having me here today. And yes, as you say, Dan, I've been working a little bit in different places and I feel that everything is somehow connected with everything else in life brought me here together. And so what I did before I said I studied psychology in Mexico and I start making my way through different places, working mainly on education, on peace, culture, on social psychology, directly with people. So, well I've been doing things in uh, in Mexico, in France, uh, in part to go in Norway, in Sweden then yes. I went to Uganda recently to Thailand and this year I was back here in Belgium. I was studying at the College of Europe to do a post master degree, a yes. To do a master in political science, a European politics and governance. Yeah. Yes.
Speaker 1:
So what are the topics that usually worked on when you say you worked with people in all these countries?
Speaker 2:
Well, it depends. I usually work with things related to education or social development and I do it from a preventive perspective. So usually I work with people as you said, who's facing like some challenges in their life or their environment and um, there are different topics that I can work on. So I have worked with at peace culture, gender equality, human rights, sense of belonging for children. It depends on which is the population I'm working, I'm working, leading, which kind of objective we have in mind, which kind of goal. But yes, that in a bit of violence prevention, that is something that I have done a lot in Mexico area. So to what extent would you address the framework of your workshop to the different cultures? Because I imagine that conflict prevention in Mexico, in Uganda and in France, Portugal different from you. Yes. Yes.
Speaker 2:
It is different. Something that I like to do since the very beginning is to see what people understand in every context about that. What do people think about the issue we're working on? Because we have many different perspectives and I think that's because of the things that, that we leave that are surrounding us. Right? So yeah, someone in Mexico might have a very different idea of what violence is or how they experienced violence, how someone can normalize violence or not. Then in a different country we'd order lost or other, I don't know, other just other social conditions. So yeah, first of all, I like to see what people think about it if they think it's important and why in how can we address it. And would you do this before the workshop as a kind of research or would you do this before the workshop?
Speaker 2:
Interviewing the participants. I in the workshop itself, a bit of both. So I do it before, of course I needed to see which are the statistics I need to see, which is the context. If they're having some recent events that people may have in mind in the country or somewhere around surrounding. But I also like to talk with the people who's going to participate in the workshop. What do they think? Are they aware of those things actually? Because, for example, something that has happened to me in Mexico or Uganda, well, I'll talk about my country. Mexico, it has sadly high levels of violence. Awesome. It has many other positive things as well. But there are, there are different things happening, but sometimes people is not even aware of them because they have other things to think about or to worry about or because they are aware of only the things that are happening in their near context.
Speaker 2:
So yeah, that's important for me to have that phishing one clarifying question then. One, two follow up. Yes. What brings them into the workshop and then if they are not aware of their problem. Yeah. I think this is very interesting for me, but hopefully also for people who's listening to this. In my case, I work with workshops. They're are organized sometimes, but the government by the municipality. So then it is, um, the state who is wanting to do something as a preventative action for some people in a certain area, certain context. Sometimes they are invited. Sometimes they are gently invited to yes, yes to follow. And there are different strategies for that. Usually not many people will like to go to a workshop like that if you just arrive to a place and you said, well we have this workshop on violence prevention. It's like he teaches feels weird, you know, like why would you like to go for dad? Yeah. Why are they inviting you to do that? What it is about you judge Demitri. Exactly. Exactly. So for example, something that we have done in Mexico with different programs is that we create some recreational activities. So then we work hand in hand with a Simba class and the workshop. Okay. So then people go to the symbol class and then they attend the workshop or sometimes they have to attend the workshop to enter the some class, you know, so we need to find different strategies, but it's all done in a preventive way.
Speaker 1:
It's interesting that you mentioned the Zoomba class because we are both dances. Yes. So yesterday we dance. Then you have, what do you think is a trigger for dancing? That would put the participants than at ease to follow such a workshop afterwards.
Speaker 2:
I think dancing as many older artistic activities, the activities they have that they have the play on aid, they have something fun about it. They have something that relates to movement and mostly everybody likes those kinds of things. When you think about being sick, you think about dancing, you think about something that it's going to be beneficial for you that you can see it in that moment. So sometimes people may seem like not really totally call purchase a workshop on gender equality because why do I need that? But I will love to go to this class of a symbol or this class of carpenter or cooking class or whatever. So it's important when I work two to work hand in hand with the solder activities. And what do you then over the address,
Speaker 1:
the topic of the workshop within this other activities? So for instance, when I think of gender equality and dancing, yes, we talked about leadership and fellowship in Lindy hop yesterday night. And for every dance it's the same. Would you reflect?
Speaker 2:
Yes. I like a lot of different meanings on the activities with you to reflect on them and to have, I don't know, some kind of significance for you. So it can be that like if we are talking about if we just attended a dancing class and then we, we are reflecting on how can that be included or how can we understand certain topics from something that we just experienced. If we are talking about a cooking class, then we know that there are certain instructions that we needed to follow. Right? So sometimes following dose instructions following certain ingredients will give us the perfect recite for something. So I just like to kind of include those things that are around us and there are part of the context of the people whom I work with. So then it seems like it's part of speaking the same language.
Speaker 2:
Yeah. Yeah. And then it's a nice ice breaker also to switch the topic in a smooth way. Exactly. Because then we are Dan saying, we're talking about it. We're slowly introducing the other subject. We can just go through it, right? Rather than say, well, okay, the summer clubs was really good. Now let's sit and talk about something different. Let's talk about, I said, no aim. We are laughing and still, I wonder very often when we talk about workshops and we talk about the exercises, we try also to make them fun and to create the safe space. How do you maintain the safe space then when you switch the topics and is it possible to have a fun workshop on such a difficult theme? [inaudible] that will depend of course. And it's very challenging. Definitely. Also because sometimes the population I work with, it's, I'm moving population so sometimes I can have 20 people coming and then next week there's 15 and then the next week there are 35 so then it's very open to how people want to interact with it.
Speaker 2:
Or what do you want to do if it's Ah, allow her if it's possible to make it funny because we're like touching this hard topics, right? In my case, I think yes, but because I said at the beginning, I work on the preventive side, so what I do, it's not a psychological set and this is not a support group. So then then that will be different. Some something important for me is that we are not there to name someone or to name a problem that someone it's experience. We are there to discuss about a problem that happens in general. Any fits, something that happens in general but no one has the tag of it, then it's okay. It's easier than we can talk about it and we can make fun activities and we can just relax and discuss because it's the preventive side. Yeah, so it's not a resolution, it's just preventing that that may happen or did that get worse or creating awareness about it?
Speaker 2:
When we create awareness or in the preventive part, I imagined that you really need this Aha moment to really digest it, understand it, and then put it into practice in your daily life. Or even maybe we realize what is happening in your real life than you have learned in the workshop. And so what would be the triggers or the exercises you use for that? It will depend. If I'm working with children, if I'm working with adults, if it's women, if it's a mixed group, where are we working? For example, I used to work in our rehabilitation center with am men, young men in adults who were there. And that was a very difficult context because they were luck inside. So if someone had to open the door for then close it after I enter, we were all there in the common space behind the bars.
Speaker 2:
So it depends a lot. Are we alone? Do we have a common room? Are we outside? I think that something important to say in the kind of workshops that I do or the way that I work with people, we don't always have the creative room. Yes, exactly, exactly. But it's important to adapt. So for example, there's one exercise that I like to do a lot with. People actually do it at the, at the very beginning. And it's very simple. But I do it in a sense of creating the atmosphere or creating the idea that reflecting about other things, it's okay because we're going to talk about different things that someone may be experiencing. I mean, most likely something that is happening around. So what I do, it's usually we start stretching just to break the tension and I say like, Oh, let's move a little bit.
Speaker 2:
Ah, let's move our head from up to down like when we see years. Just this thread because actually there are some things in life to which we have to seed. Yes. Right? And then we'd just keep stretching. Let's move our head from right to left that when we say no, there are also some things in life that we needed to say no. And then then we just continue a little bit to move our shoulders up to down. When you make this gesture of like, oh, I actually don't know, I'm not sure about it. And I said, there are some things like that that we may not be true. And that's okay. So I kind of do disclosing and it's okay to have things in our life, in our situation that we accept that we see. Yes, it's very okay to have others that we say no and we reject and it's okay to not know about something and I just live it like that in that moment.
Speaker 2:
But later on when we're working, so we have a topic, we just did an exercise or something, I can see if there's someone who has the face of being thinking about that you know when you're about to get that Aha moment when you're like, wait and you can see on prison forehead that this is happening. Then I go back to that idea that we work at the beginning. I don't name anybody in, I do say like just remember it's okay to say yes or no or it's okay to not know something. And then I see the people who said like, that's true. It may be that they realize that something is not going in the right direction or that maybe they are doing something. Something very good regarding the topic. To come back to the fact that in many of the workshops that you facilitate, people are not there because they want to be there because they signed up.
Speaker 2:
How do you then make sure that everyone stir participates? Yes. Well I talked with the people since the beginning saying that am which is the benefit of it. That's why I told you about asking what do we know about this topic? Is this important for us? Why, why will it be so once I have this information from people, once they share that orders, I tried to explain that it's important that what we discuss, I mean stays here. We're not going to discuss anything, that it's very personnel and so on and that our participation is voluntary. So of course if everyone wants to tell what's contribute, it's very welcome. If someone doesn't want to, that would be totally okay. So once I kind of set the rules and set the ground for the workshop, then what I do is just to try to introduce or give the room for other people who truly, they'd done talk that much.
Speaker 2:
And for example, in some cases if I have a mixed group, sometimes I'm man, we'll be the ones speaking more and women will automatically lower their voices are not participating in, that's a cultural thing in some countries, not in all of them, but in some countries. Today's so then I will try just to address a question specifically to some participants that I see that has that it's reflecting that has something to say but made me feel seller bit shy until the, well that's interesting. What about you? What do you think? Do you have, uh, an example of it? Is there something that has happened to you? And what I've noticed is that sometimes when you give the word to those shy people or who's kind of willing to talk but haven't found a moment to speak aloud, then other people feel motivated to do it as well.
Speaker 2:
Or sometimes what I do is reflecting on what they are saying and kind of think aloud and say like, Oh yeah, that's true. It actually has happened to me. Or it happened somewhere where I was living background. I'm also coming from a challenging environment. If I can say that in Mexico. So it's, um, I have lived in a similar situations or similar environments, so I can, I can relate a little bit more when the people, where I work with them. And so if I, if I can say like, Oh yeah, true. I remember this little thing. It opens the floor for other people to also share their experiences or just share what they're thinking in that moment and then we can go on with the exercise. So you walk the talk by leading by example yeah. Up Yourself. Yes. Yes. It kind of makes me think of a topic like domestic violence.
Speaker 2:
Would you have a workshop, a mixed workshop on domestic violence with men and women in the same room? No, what I have worked before is that we have work on preventing violence in the family, but um, we address it for families of students who were in high school. So we invited their parents. Yes. And we work separately. So we work with the, with the students in one room. We worked with the parents in our room. So in that case it was makes [inaudible] but we try to work that based on communication. So how do we communicate with others? So maybe the title was not violence because then that would be a little bit of judging, you know, let me invite you to do some [inaudible]. So it was managed on how to we communicate to have effective interactions with others. How can we communicate better with our partner in with our children.
Speaker 2:
And in this case, for example, we were using the fact that their children were setting, they all have something in common, their children were starting high school. So we were talking about like, mm, well it's very challenging to have like a teenager now in the house, dismayed, bring up some different discussions, how can we address those kinds of things? And then during the exercises, then it was able to start putting some things about gender equality as like, or really should it be only the mater who does that, who has a different experience? And then someone has, because, because people, I think that nobody's just a, or the world is not just black and white. Right? There's not extreme. Now we all have a little bit of everything so people can relate to other experiences and think and, and tell you what they are they're doing in that sense.
Speaker 2:
So what I hear is that you wouldn't, if you have a workshop on a difficult, challenging topic, you wouldn't just put it out there and talk about this immediately, but rather find a backdoor interrelated. Yes, yes. So let's start with other things that are part of the solution, let's call it rather than the problem, right? Yeah. And let's work with those other things that created this mountain and that at the end we're going to work to get or to climb together. And you mentioned exercises for learning better communication. Can you give us an example? Well, we talk, um, with people in Mexico and uh, in Uganda I've, I've done that as well. So how do you address the other person? How you express your needs clearly and try not to just think before handed someone gives you the answer. Right? So, so we tried to put different examples.
Speaker 2:
We make, for example, a m sketch. So we ask some volunteers and try to tell them to ask for something they want, but without saying what, what they really want, just trying to, the odd person will understand them because sometimes it happens to too many of us, including myself. I'm like, it's so obvious that I need this or that. My intention is that, but actually it's not that obvious for the orders. Right. And indicates of domestic violence. Sometimes it has a lot to do with it. And so sometimes in Mexico, this may be very different in different countries. So in this case, I'm talking about Mexico. Sometimes if you have one idea in mind but you don't communicate it clearly and then you're very angry because the other person did not do what you expect them to do. This might lead to certain episodes of violence.
Speaker 2:
It's not the only reason, of course, but we have seen that it's one of the triggers. Yeah, and I think it relates to a lot of conflicts. We're having families even as they don't combinate in violence, but a lot of misunderstandings just start because we assume that the people close to us can weed our minds that cannot we kind of thing that our everyone sees the world in the same way that we're seeing or everyone is thinking about the same kind of thing. But no. How do you raise the awareness or this empathy actually for at the points of view from other people? What something I like to work a lot is which kind of privileges we have and this may be LBJ challenging when we're talking about environments that face a certain risk or et Cetera, but still I like to raise the point and say which are privileges like which are good things, what is happening?
Speaker 2:
The tests that older people don't have than other people did. We know they are. That can be around us or can be near alluded close or far context. And once we start thinking about that, I think it's a little bit more easier. I will say at least to reflect on that Audra person may not have the same situations as we do and I think it's about connecting with the heart of other people. So as soon as you start seeing others and the challenges that they may face about something, well it just feel, so that can be one of the things our daughter, one is when we are talking together about something, if I see that someone is going a little bit more personnel, if someone is giving quite a fun example, sometimes I needed to balance how much call that personal shoe that person keep on going because again, it's not a terribly session and it will not be ethical to open something that you cannot close in that moment.
Speaker 2:
Right? Yeah. So then I always need to balance how much should the person keep on talking. That issue that made me a little bit difficult for them. And then when it's the right moment to stop that common or to give some kind of conclusion, I do it. And then I like to reflect with yours on how brave maybe is that person for sharing that part of their, of their experience of their life. I try to say how I felt, but I felt um, I are not very identified or I've, I actually felt sad that this person had experienced or other, and I say the question to the air, maybe you can think a little bit about yourself. How did you feel with that story? I always use touching just because that's a very lattering thing. But a, I said Emily can use with your hand on your heart.
Speaker 2:
I'll repeat and try to listen. What is in there, what happened? Did it move something or not? And just have a nice thought for that person in your head. If later or someone feels like saying it, that will be so, it will depend. But, um, I tried to connect from heart to heart to others and also to help the participants to connect to their own feelings. Cause I think that's something we often get disconnected from. Yeah. Do actually feel yes. Exactly. Yeah. Especially because of this idea that there are good feelings and bad feelings. So then some people may think it's not okay if I feel this way. Yeah. This immediately of course brings Vipassana to my mind, yes. To Repatha, no retails. Yes. So this meditation retreat where it's all about observing feelings without judging them. So they are not good. They are bad feelings.
Speaker 2:
They're not good or bad thoughts. Yes. Would you use something like meditation in your workshops? Yes, I do some breathing techniques because that's the base of everything. And I mean, we all know, for example, for anxiety it's the best thing or the first thing that you needed to start doing. Every time that you feel anxious, just need to start writing, calm down and change the focus a little bit. Right? So yes, we do some guided meditation about something we want. So we teach the technique in kind of tried to work together with the people on how these may be helpful and how this, it's actually something that we can do on our own. It does not require to pay something to buy something. It's a resource that we have inside of us. Yeah. Right. So everyone can access it at any moment in at any time. So we, we usually do that. We also teach people how to relax by doing the opposite, you know, when you like just press a something very hard and then you need to release and you just feel sick yet. And then that's the case. So you can, you can use different strategies to release a bit of that tension and breathe together with it and to learn small hacks on how to deal with the daily tension and anxiety. Yes.
Speaker 1:
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Speaker 2:
When I think of all these different exercises and also maybe the playful part of the exercise to address these difficult topics. Yes, I think of cultural differences. So for instance, when I think of my time in Vietnam, what I really liked about the people there were their playfulness. Yeah.
Speaker 1:
I used to say that the Vietnamese, sometimes I had the impression it's a population that got stuck in puberty because even at age 40 they would kind of make jokes and laugh a lot and be a little bit childish, but in a positive way. So I can imagine that with this kind of cultural background, yes, it is easier to approach topics and also to break the tension in the room before addressing. Yes, I can also imagine that it's very different in Europe. Yeah. So what are your thoughts on that and how would you use a different strategy in Europe?
Speaker 2:
Yes, he is very different. It's very different because of the way that we learn how to interact with others, if it's okay to make lots of jokes or not. Are we more serious than others or not? What I have done in Europe, I have worked with Roma children in France and I have worked with asylum seekers in Sweden and um, people in, um, mental institution in Sweden as well. So the people I usually work, it's, they have different situation or yeah, I would call it that, the different situation that, uh, that people in general that may be in, in another kind of workshop. Uh, yeah. And, and sometimes in case of a Sweden or some secret, they are coming from a different country, right? So they're coming from a different country, one through lots of experiences and now during a different environment with other rules, with other ways of interaction and et cetera.
Speaker 2:
It is different. But I think what I said at the beginning, people always relate to the things that make you feel cute or laugh in a short moment. So there's always some kind of missing, some kind of exercise, something that can connect you with depressant moment and then then that it's okay. Then that's somehow a little bit universal. Yes. People in Yukon, the Wilton's way more than someone in Europe. Definitely in there. They're awesome. The dancing, I mean not irritating, but still there will be something that a person in a, let's say more well that different country is coding like that will relate the, if we are doing an icebreaking that involves in music, at some point they will interact at a different levels, but it will break the ice that does CIPM. So what is your favorite exercise?
Speaker 2:
It depends. It is the one that I was telling you of saying yes, no, I don't know the different things. Something that I really liked to work with children. It's when we have different carts with activities or objects printed in each of them. And then we have some signs on the wall saying men and women, and then each of them needs to go on pace, their cart in the place where they think it belongs. It's something that belongs to women if it's something that belongs to Matt who said something that goes in the middle, right. So what is an example of an object that you would have in this game? We have, for example, a players. We have a phone, we have a blend there. We have a car for example, and I love working with children because they just go with the exercise. They'd done thing.
Speaker 2:
They don't ever think about like, oh, maybe if I paste it here, someone will assume that I'm Chad me. No, they just go, look, it's a car. It should be for this person or should we in the middle. So it's very interesting to see first what they do and nobody's allowed to ask any questions, which is called place or object. It's very funny with children sometimes it's like we need to find a card and we need to go out, run and paste it. Where in villa it's part of the game and then it comes to our reflection part, right? It's like, ah, this is interesting. Why do you think, uh, we paste it here, what did we pay some somewhere in there and then what we deal, what I do is that I changed the labels. So I take the card that said women in, I take the card that said men in, I switched a place and the first reaction is like Ah, no possible.
Speaker 2:
And I'm like, yeah, really. So I started first talking about about myself as like a car car foreman, but actually my mom drives it, you know, just something very small and tenders tells him, yeah, my mom also drives and especially when you work with children, they love sharing their stories. Then someone's like, I also have an aunt who has a taxi and that's a small thing but it works. A baby baby where those pay be go, who, who should take care of the baby and like this were kind of touching upon this gender equality, crucial. Do each kind of things. If we are talking about violence prevention for example. And then I'd like also to have different magazines on the floor. So we select some pictures that represent what we understand as peace, what we understand as violence. So sometimes I like to work with things that can have a meaning for you that can represent you.
Speaker 2:
It's easier to talk through an object sometimes. Yes. What do you think? Can adults learn from children or did you learn from the children that you can apply to help adults? First of all, not overthinking, still working on that. Yes. Yes. That's a very good skill that children naturally have to help the orders children had. Very good. I had really listening. What uh, other of your classmates or personally group is saying in connect with them immediately. It may not seem that obvious cause also children seem very distracted. They're like looking everywhere and start playing with something they have in their hands, but they can actually connect very easily with others. So that's something that I will say in, I have worked a lot with children in preschool or children of a young age and I see that some of the activities that we consider so normal and obvious for children were perfectly when we work with adults, think so simple as just having different colors and a blank paper because you can start doing your own things.
Speaker 2:
It's a little bit challenging at the beginning because as adults we're not supposed to waste our time in this childish thing. But once people start getting into the activity, once they get some praise of what they're doing, they love it and it is, many companies around the world are using legal and are using some orderer objects, play-doh, et cetera. Design thinking to create your own projects with something that you can touch and interact. Yeah. So I think that all the part that involves using your hands in something creative can help you to work with this. And I would be curious because as far as I know you also worked on leadership workshops. Yes. So the total opposite. Yes, way. It's a different challenges where it's rather the situation that is challenging them, the person that is in a challenging situation. What did you learn from your workshops? Working with people at Whisk about the workshops? Working was leaders and managers. Hmm. Yes.
Speaker 2:
It's different population. It's a different context. As you just said. Some people they're going to work that workshop because they want to because they assimilate has something that they want just is like that. Some Audra people are going there because there's a Samba class before, before I drive. Yeah, so then the situation is different many times. Also the background of the people is different. Some people have attended, have already degrees and have attended different order trainings. Some people may or may not know how to read and write in order. In order context. I think that what I learned or something that I can see in common is that when you can do a workshop or when you can do an activity where people can feel connected to it, when people can see the value of it, it creates some sort of partnership among them. Yeah.
Speaker 2:
Yes. So, so you bond with others and it doesn't matter which kind of subject we are addressing. If people is involved in the activity, they will bond with their group and that kind of bond can be very, very important. Very peculiar to do some moderate things later. Hmm. Yeah. What is the difference in your way of starting a workshop when you work with on a leadership topic, for instance? Yes. On a leadership topic, you should have more people could talk more while they are leaders already, right? They love talking, they love expressing and that's perfect. That's amazing. But it be the opposite to what I have in some similar rock chips. So what are in the risk environments and et Cetera? I'm trying to encourage people to participate in, encourage people to talk here. What I try to do, it's to select the ideas that we want to put on the table.
Speaker 2:
Yeah. So then we all have the opportunity to participate into, to work on how we structure those comments. So there will be exercise more directed to be more concrete [inaudible] to be like a, we're thinking of this of something we're thinking fast, but then we put only three words time when we're going to discuss with this three ones. Okay. Um, what do your team want to treat? Okay, next one. So it's, it's a little bit more dynamic in this sense. It of course depends on the group and which are their needs. But I will say that's one of the main differences.
Speaker 1:
Interesting. So how to be more concrete and say, say more in fewer words. Yes. Or what's exactly what you want to address. Right. What do you want to talk about? What's your main idea? This reminds me of back to what you said about being specific in our communication, how to avoid misunderstanding, how to give clear instructions, set expectations in from your experience. What makes workshops fail?
Speaker 2:
Probably one of the main things it's, uh, if you did not plant in my experience is that if I did not plan well enough, that will be a risk for the workshop. If I don't have a plan B on some exercise or in all of exercise, actually I tend to think a lot on how I want the workshop to go, what I want to happen, what I'm expecting in winter. The things that may go wrong actually sometimes it's okay. I mean sometimes you just adapt and go with it and at the end you reach the same result. That's fantastic. But sometimes if I don't have a backup exercise, it may just kind of Fav the thing that I was building. So I will say planning. Planning is important
Speaker 1:
and it's interesting. I liked the idea of having a plan B and I'm curious what would be the moment that you realize, oh now I need the plan B
Speaker 2:
when I see that people is not engaging anymore. So if someone starts looking out the window in some other person, maybe looking at their phones to other people to start talking about themselves and laughing about something and someone is trying to give the report, people is not connecting anymore, I'd lost them. They're somewhere else. Yes. So when I, when I started detecting some signs of that, then that's the moment to change the exercise or to ask them. Sometimes it's just important to bring the attention back. When someone asks you, are you still here? Is this still interesting for you? Um, do we need maybe a five minutes break or something? How do you bring them back then into mentally into the room? Well, it depends. Like sometimes we can do some kind of refreshing that involves movement. Again, that connects you very fast. Sometimes we can do some breathing exercises that we all were doing it together.
Speaker 2:
Sometimes some playful activity just to that it's, um, related to the whole group. So we are, we have the attention back and once you see the attention again ricing in on it's big, then you change the activity back to, to what you wanted. [inaudible] it's not a game session and that's always fun. But, yeah. But that's, I think one of the strategies, yeah. To doom in. Um, there was something that I was telling you about yesterday that I thought w that was very important. I forgot to mention it before we [inaudible] risk. Um, when we're working in risky topics or difficult topics. This was not one of my workshops, but it was a workshop that I attended and I have only seen in there, but I thought it was a fantastic strategy. So there was this association giving some workshops on how to work with people who said at the end of their life.
Speaker 2:
So how is sure you work with them? With the family? It's not an easy topic, right? Like nobody really likes to do stuff to phrase exactly that. INSEAD [inaudible]. So we had plenary sessions when we were all there, but we were also having different small group exercises in different classrooms. And what this organization did is that they hired two professional clowns that were there taking notes, they were participating but also taking notes. And at the end of every day they will do some sketch about what we experience during the day during the activities, not with a sense of make fun of it. This was in Spain, by the way. Also the culture is important, right? Spain of suits. It's a country where you can be more playful about things you, you're more loud about the things that you like and you want to see. So they were making some sketches, but the things we experienced were just some words that were very characteristic in one of the classes or some something that happened that everyone will remember. Yeah. And it's this kind of things that makes you close today with a happy feeling that you were there. Yeah. You were part of it. Of course you were touching on very different topics, but because you're learning and because you want to do something good for others. Yeah. And I think the, just the
Speaker 1:
laugh when we leave so much of the stress and tension. Yes. And then it will show you the mirror and when you hear it by someone else saying maybe it's, you realize that, okay, there's a burden and it is a challenging situation, but you cannot change it. So
Speaker 2:
yeah. What, what do you do to make the best out of it? How do you work with it together? Yeah.
Speaker 1:
In a earlier episode I, I interviewed a clown. Ah, see stuff, the clown. And that was very interesting because we have so different ideas of a clown. As
Speaker 2:
you said, the world in the workshop you mentioned was not to make fun of the people but rather to reflect, to hold the mirror but in a kind of humorous way. Yes. Yes. I think we often underestimate the impact of a clown. The impact of, of laughed in general, right. That the participant were aware that these were clowns taking notes or did they hide a participants? Ah, no, no, no. They told us since the beginning. So yeah, they, they said they will be part of it. They were taking part in the, in the activities and dressed us or all of us and they were not dressing up. Pulled the witnesses. Yeah, exactly. Now addressable as all of us, but we will know that they were there and we will, not that they will just be observing or participating in some of the activities, but they will reflect some of them at the end.
Speaker 2:
And at some point it was very interesting because we want them to be there. We want them to see what we were talking about cause we wanted to know how they will transform it into the end of the session closing up and I think that it's even a strategy that you could use for less hairy, more chuff workshops. Yes. When I imagine a strategy workshop at leadership summit where you have a humorous reflection at the end, I can see so much benefit because then it's also a conversation trigger when the leaders then go to dinner or networking or whatsoever. Then they will remember better the highlights of the conference of the summit, of the workshop because of these labs and because how this outsider we reflected on it. Yeah, definitely. If you laugh about something it will get imprinted it. You already, if you cry about something of course.
Speaker 2:
Yeah, but well maybe rather laugh about, yes it is clown thing. I think it was fantastic. I mean I was part of the [inaudible] and I to have such a great idea in, yeah. It can be implemented in some other workshops in maybe not. I mean you can not always hire a professional now maybe. Yes, that will be amazing. But you don't know. But I was thinking how can you make it part of your, if your workshops have your ideas, and I'm sure there's many people who can have awesome ideas, but I came have with one of them and I was thinking that maybe at the end of the session we can check out with the participants which were the highlights of the day, which things that they like and et cetera. And that is good because that helps you to summarize what happened in the day. But if you do it in an hour, like every, every day, et Cetera, not everyone made participate, but what if, for example, we asked a group of three or four participants to make a sketch about something that happened in the day.
Speaker 2:
Or if we ask some orders to represent without talking every important something in the day of, or a part of the workshop, a part of the class, and then the others needs find out which part they're representing something that it's playful, something that just people feel involved with. And of course if you don't find out which one is it, that's even better because then you're just thinking, is it despite, no, is it the one in the middle now? Is it when we talk about that order thing? True. And by that you just reflect on the day. Yeah. And he'd also helps us a facilitator to see what people is thinking. It's the most relevant part for them. And I think the exaggeration, so by asking, are pushing the participants to really exaggerate? Yeah. To use humor. He asked to reflect on certain situations or the highlights or low lights of the day.
Speaker 2:
It will release the tension. It will stick to the memory because it makes them laugh. Yeah. Then we member the outcomes of the workshop much better. Definitely. Because very often and at the end of a workshop, the beginning and the outcomes and discussions where it in the morning just seems so far away. Yes, yes, exactly. Because so many things happen during the day and some of them aren't just to just stay with you. And some others, you may not remember dumbest, very important. But when someone else mentioned you're like, actually it's true. I also felt very connected to that and you know, now that you mentioned about making something bigger, exaggerating, it reminds me my drama classes, I used to attend those in your doing Improv as well in one exercise that I love, it was exaggerating. So we needed to pick up one action and just keep on exaggerating it.
Speaker 2:
So everyone had to pass to continue the same action. For example, just taking, imagining, taking spoon and eat some soup and the next person needed to take like a bigger spoon and all the more and the next person had to take like a huge boon and some types of buckets. Yeah, exactly. In everyone just just do it and it's so much fun. Everyone's laughing. What if we do the same with something that happened in the workshop and we were just exaggerating it because it's just about like remembering it in a fun way. As I'm sure there are many different ideas that people can, that William Food for thought. Yes.
Speaker 2:
So what do you think someone can tell us what they think about that? I just remember we were together in the summer school. I mean I was a participant there and we had knelt at the end whom delivers speech. Yes. On behalf of all the students. I personally loved his speed because it had so many funny things that happened or that he, he said them in such a funny way that we were all laughing about it and those things were references to the situations that we live during those 10 days and he related it to a personal situation of his own. So this was another kind of hook. Yeah. For us to remember and to reflect and also to use the results of the outcomes of the summer school to reflect on our own personal situation. Exactly. And he'd gave a message. I mean it was not only laughing, but he'd give a message to true something that we all put attention to all the people we were listening to what he was saying. Yes. So yes, I think, I think humor is a very important part and it can be used as a very good strategy without making fun of people. That's very important. Exactly, exactly right.
Speaker 1:
Because just using Umar does not mean making fun. Yes, and I will take this idea of how to close in a humorous way in reflecting on the outcomes. I think that's very valuable. So how would you, if someone started the podcasts and Beneful asleep and just woke up and like what cloud today they were just talking about violence prevention. I thought they, we'll talk about violence prevention. What do you want a listener to remember from our conversation?
Speaker 2:
I will say that it's very important to know who you're working with and to listen to what they have to say before you. You start that it's okay to work with difficult topics and it's necessary. That's actually necessary to work with difficult topics and it doesn't mean that you cannot do fun activities with it. It actually can be a very good strategy to release part of the tension and to make people more aware of some Audra situations without falling into victim label or like Ah, something pat that you put on them. No, let's just address the situation in general that it's also important. Which kind of activity are you doing? If it's a preventive or if it's a resolution, then that's that that will be in a different, a different way. And that there are many things that we can learn from children, which is their playfulness, their love for doing things with their hands, crafts and that also arts can be beneficial when we are working with all kinds of population. Right. But if someone is working in um, risky topics or difficult topics, I'll say give it a try to play a little bit with the things around plant a lodge and go for it. Yes. Yeah.
Speaker 1:
Thank you so much for sharing for this conversation. All these insights from a very different perspective. Thank you head that if someone wants to reach out to you and wants to deepen the conversation or needs your needs to pick your brain, unfortunately you, you will leave Mexicans back to Thailand, back to Thailand. We will miss you here and we'll miss sell a few, but I'll be available in Thailand. You can all visit me and Skype and yeah. Yeah. So how can people best reach out to you by email? By linkedin? Yes. Schleiden. Yeah. I will put your linkedin powered Lena. Yes. Central Saratoga. Exactly. The link in the show knows. Yes. Thank you Paulina. Thank Miriam very much. Thank you. Thank you for staying tuned and listening to the show. I appreciate your attention as I know how busy you are. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe and engage by sharing your comments and thoughts and visit workshops. Dot work to download the one page summary. I'm looking forward to seeing you back at the next episode and I wish your foot full day.

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