When ‘Talking behind our backs’ is best: Removing body language cues strengthens brainstorming/problem-solving  

By Luci Englert McKean, NSRF Assistant Director and International Facilitator

Subtle body language cues can stifle collaboration. “Politeness” can interfere with efficient communication. Power imbalances kill creativity. Here’s how to fix it.       

I’m pitching a Pecha Kucha talk to the National Association of Independent Schools for its February 2020 conference and needed a three-sentence video to describe it. Here’s that video.  Our Critical Friends are likely familiar with the Dilemma Analysis, Structured Charrette, and many other protocols and so you will be familiar with this idea, but for many in the NAIS audience, the idea of “talking behind my back in front of my face” will be completely shocking to them!

Here’s why I want to make this presentation:

Too many meetings feel like time-wasters, and in too many organizations, people are afraid to speak openly. By building trust, we can take small risks like turning one’s chair out, allowing others to discuss their thoughts and feedback “behind my back” while I simply listen. While the “stilted” steps of protocols seem like they would inhibit creativity, in fact they support it. People do consciously and unconsciously self-edit when faced with body language. Our protocols make meetings vastly more efficient, create greater belonging within a school, and catapult collaboration effectively, raising everyone’s performance and student achievement, as a result.

Stay tuned for news about whether this talk is accepted or not, and other important news about NSRF and NAIS!