4Hs and Goodnight

by Jessica Delaney, Principal, Engagement + Communications

 I am a mom. I think I’ve mentioned that it’s the hardest job I have ever had and I am paid in a mix of hugs and kisses, boogers and blood. Sometimes I can’t get my kids to stop talking; other times they are like a vault. A few months back we started a nighttime ritual and it made me think of de-briefing facilitated sessions and engagement events.

The 4 Hs are:

  • What today made you happy?
  • What was hard today?
  • What was your helping thing?
  • What is your hope for tomorrow?

Sometimes the answers are short and sweet – like what made you happy – “right now with you mommy”. And sometimes the answers are openers: what was hard? “My friend wouldn’t play with me.” I have come to realize a few things.

  • There is power in ritual and habit.
  • It’s not about the question, but the opportunity to engage on a deeper level.
  • In the stillness, there’s vulnerability.

I have no doubt that if I asked these questions around the dinner table I would get different responses. But I ask them under the duvet, in the darkness, surrounded by stuffies.

While I am not suggesting that you get under the duvet with your colleagues, I am suggesting that reflecting on facilitated sessions or engagement events will likely always get a different response if you do it in a safe space and within a set framework. That might mean that you debrief and reflect alone, with a cup of tea, a few days after the fact. It might mean waiting a while to debrief with colleague during a walking meeting in the park. However you do it, I would like to suggest that by ritualizing reflection and debriefing you can create safer work spaces where you can explore things more deeply than “order more coffee”.

A framework might be:

  • What are we proud of?
  • What would we change?
  • What can we learn from this session / event?

And like my debrief with my six-year old, some responses fill my heart and others sometimes crush it, but it’s always better to know than to have silence.