I was facilitating a strategy meeting that just seemed to go on and on. Some people were dominating the discussions, giving drawn out explanations for their opinions, while others sat in silence. Then it dawned on me. People feel they need to justify their opinions. The domineering ones endlessly pontificate to prove they are right. With the fear of being wrong, the quiet ones remain quiet.
Opinions, ideas, different perspectives hold great worth. It’s not always a matter of right or wrong. In an environment where ideas are freely exchanged and not judged, the ideas themselves hold value.
Therefore, as a facilitator, you want people to feel the safety of expressing themselves openly without judgment. It’s important to create an atmosphere where people don’t feel they need to justify every thought. They need to see that there is value in their perspective.
Positively reinforce the expression of an idea. Show respect for someone’s opinion, regardless if you agree or not. Don’t allow some to dominate the discussion. Limit their justifications. Ideas are valuable. Encourage their expression.