Tip #163: Creating a Sense of Community

  1. It really helps to be there early to meet as many people as possible. This tends to lessen anxiety on all sides and creates a nice rapport between the trainer and the participants. Besides introducing yourself and asking the person’s name, ask also what they do and why they have come to the training. You will then have some familiar faces in the audience and may be able to refer to individuals by name.
  2. It is always a good device to ask common ground questions: “How many of youÉ?” in order to help people feel they have something in common. Make sure that you keep asking topic-relevant questions until everyone has been able to raise their hands.
  3. Avoid making assumptions and expressing them, such as “We all know x.” If we all don’t know x, this will make us feel excluded from the group. Instead, ask “How many of you are familiar with x?”This gives you the option to have someone from the group explain x, so that everyone now knows what it means. If everyone raises their hands, then you can proceed more comfortably with the belief that everyone already does know x!
  4. Ask people at the breaks how the workshop is going. Our experience shows us that this contact, for some reason, encourages individuals who were silent prior to this time to have the confidence to participate openly in class discussions. Perhaps it is the one-one-one contact which gives the individual the sense that you really care about their satisfaction and success in the program.

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