Mar 22

Inhibitions in Anecdote Circles

Last week, I conducted four anecdote circles for an organisation with whom we’re working. At the end of the 3rd, one of the participants came up to me and said that there were some things she’d have liked to share but she held back because she didn’t want to incriminate the characters in the anecdotes. I told her that she could share with me separately on another occasion.

Generally, we begin an anecdote circle by reassuring participants that anything they say within the circle will be kept within the circle, and nothing they share can be attributed to specific individuals. On one occasion, in an anecdote circle that my colleague Patrick Lambe facilitated, the participants made their reservations known right at the beginning of the anecdote circle, and Patrick then got all of them to promise one another that they would not repeat outside the room anything that was said inside. That worked out fine. But in my case, I was only aware of this reservations at the end of the circle. To think of all the good stories that the group had missed! Need to think of a better way to avoid this next time. Thought about doing what Patrick did, ie, making the participants promise each other discretion, but it seems too much of an overkill to do it right at the beginning of a circle when the participants haven’t quite warmed up. That might have the opposite effect of putting their backs up.

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