I-ness and…


This is an activity I developed during some workshops on patient and client care in the public and private sector. Some of it grew out of work with the NHS, some with housing associations. It provides an interesting perspective on how service providers orientate themselves towards clients and customers.

This is fun and can be a bit challenging:

“I-ness” – I-ness is when the focus is on the needs of the facilitator. He or she uses “I” a lot. “What I’d like to do now is…”…”I want to explore.” etc. Often unknown to the facilitator, the workshop is very much drive by their needs and maintaining them. Ice-breakers can sometimes be driven by I-ness.

“You-ness” – You-ness is all about the participants. The facilitator is very much in the space of where the participants are at: “You all look like you need a breather after that” and “So, what do you get from that activity in terms of learning points?”

“We-ness” – Here are are in a co-creative mode where the success of a session is a joint responsibility of facilitator and participants. “Any thoughts on what we can do with that feedback?” and “So, here were are after lunch, and we have these actions up on the flip chart…”

Of course these are not mutually exclusive but can give a flavour of the good and the bad of allowing one style to dominate a session. I believe that opening activities should be born of “You-ness” for a new group, and “We-ness” for an established group.

I recently encountered another category: “Them-ness”. With them-ness the facilitator is like a doctor sitting in a consulting room discussing patients who are not in the room. I think themness can provide occasional much needed detachment and objectivity. “I get a sense they are getting restless or tired”, but my own inclination is to use “You-ness” as it’s more open and direct, or we-ness as much as possible. Often also we-ness can form the basis of facipulation as it tends to not involve participants so motives are hidden. “We’ll get THEM to do the name-game icebreaker. THEY’LL love that.

I don’t believe there is really ever such a thing as THEM. There are only individuals. And, as Rudolf Steiner says, each human being is a unique species of one.

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