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Yarning Circles are a Safe Space to Share

Last Thursday I was privileged to be invited to the Neerigen Brook Primary School’s smoking ceremony for their new Yarning Circle space.

Principal Lesley Barrett’s vision to replace a large area of lawn for something more culturally inclusive while creating a very impressive “who we are” entrance statement, has exceeded expectations.

The school student body filed past the smoking peppermint leaves and embraced the smoke to the sound of the warbling didgeridoo played by two accomplished young boys.

After the welcoming ceremony, Lesley expressed her pleasure at the attraction of the space where the students have often been seen sitting on the smooth fallen trunks having meaningful chats. Real connection.

The size of the yarning circle has been designed to fit a whole class with plenty of space to circulate. Real connection.

It reminds me of facilitating Happy Meetings and the importance of creating a safe space to share. The first step in the Happy Meetings model is “Create the Space”. Hosting a meeting is like hosting an event, you create the environment for people to engage. Create the atmosphere where people feel comfortable to relax, get excited and embrace the environments. The Yarning Circle is that space. The space is conducive to relaxing, talking, chatting, listening and sharing.

As a leader (host) you can create the space for an engaging and productive meeting by:

  • Location Where are you going to hold the meeting? Could it be outside or be a walking meeting? What is the table set up going to be? Does the space have the AV and Audio resources available? Is it easy for people to access? How will you keep, if any, remote guests engaged?

  • Snacks Be them Minties, Freddos, pieces of fruit or crackers and cheese, supplying some snacks at meetings say one thing – you care. You may not get the accolades you deserve, but after a day in a classroom or behind a workstation, a shot of energy helps.

  • Acknowledge How are you going to acknowledge people as they enter the room? There is a big difference between meeting someone at the door like a friend and when they meet you from the front like a boss. Acknowledging people individually is more powerful than the collective.

We can’t all have a Yarning Circle that naturally relaxes meeting participants, but we can think of how to create the space to achieve the same result.

An agenda is not a meeting. It is an element of the meeting. Like the space we share.

Happy meetings engage people and produce outcomes.

What is your first step to planning a Happy Meeting?

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