Being Present with an Open Mind

This week continues our multi-week series discussing Standing in the Fire by Larry Dressler, and in particular the specific steps he outlines for facilitating high-conflict meetings successfully.  Last week, you may remember, we addressed Step 1:  Stand with Self- Awareness.

Step 2:   Stand in the Here and Now

Be present, calm, and aware.

Our brain produce thousands of thoughts a day, many of which are attached to regrets about the past and worries about the future.


Easier said than done, but with practice you can improve your ability, and you must.  You must because your ability to stay present, calm, and aware, is one of the keys to successfully facilitating high-heat meetings.  When you worry about the past or the future, it takes you away from the present.  When you are not in the present you may be more apt to make rash decisions, appear anxious, and misinterpret others’ actions.

What to Do:  

Remind yourself, “I am not my thoughts and emotions.”  Practice stillness.  Be comfortable with silence, you do not need to fill it.  Doing so, undermines your ability to really be present and aware of what is going on.  People will tell you everything you need to know if you are quiet and LISTEN.

Step 3: Stand with an Open Mind

“People with a high level of personal mastery are aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, their growth areas. And they are deeply self-confident.”– Peter Senge

We are encultured to find fault with the phrase, “I don’t know” yet it is those who can find peace with admitting their ignorance who can best facilitate participants of a high-heat meeting toward greater creativity, a sense of safety, and learning.  We do best when we approach difficult situations with a sense of curiosity rather than judgement.

What to Do

“I don’t know.” Make these three words your best friends.

Remember that everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student.  Everyone has something you can learn from them.

Be curious, not judgmental.

Be willing to feel the discomfort between your “truth” and the other party’s.  Remember that in some way each of us feels more driven towards being right than being effective.  Acknowledge this, remind yourself, and work against this drive when necessary.



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s