This exercise is done in 10 minutes and can easily be added on to the preparatory meeting.
Allow five minutes for one person, a volunteer, to talk about a personal experience or experiences, or about anything at all for that matter, but, if possible, in a personal way. It is best for the person not to prepare anything in advance. The five minutes belong to the speaker and she/he can say anything that she/he feels like saying. The person even has the right to be given five minutes of absolute, respectful, attentive, loving silence, if thats the way things work out.
The five minutes belong absolutely to the appointed speaker. No one else is to say a single word. Even if the speaker chooses to spend the five minutes in complete silence, during that time the group is to be attentive to the person in absolute, respectful silence. (In practice, while there might be periods of silence, when a speaker realises and feels that the group is giving absolute respectful and loving attention, then words will be spoken. Nevertheless, the group is to be ready for five minutes of unembarrassed, loving silence, if needs be.)
At the end of the first five minutes the group members can offer some comments, all together taking no more than another five minutes.
The comments: Not about the content of what the person said...
Not about the way the person said it...
Not about any silence...
But something along this line: As I was listening to you I felt... then share something positive. (You might also have had some negative feelings, thats only human, but please dont voice them.) If you have no positive feelings to feed back, say nothing. Listen to others who have!
This segment also is to be given five minutes. And that is the end of the exercise for that day.
If you are having your meeting around a kitchen table, which is a good place to meet, set the timer on your stove at five minutes. The speaker then stops even in mid-sentence! Likewise set five minutes for the feedback time.
Incidentally, need it be said, confidentiality prevails as regards this exercise.
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