The participant who talks too much:

A way to approach the dominant participant and pull in non-participants is to redirect the discussion to another person or another topic.  Alternatively, facilitators may wish to reframe their comments, making them viable additions to the discussion.  Facilitators might also ask one or more members of the group to act as observers for a few sessions, reporting back their observations to the group. Perhaps, assigning the avid talker to the observer role would help the person develop sensitivity.  Another approach is to break down the group into smaller task groups.

The participant who will not talk:

A way to approach participants is to provide opportunities for smaller group discussions or pair-share discussions. Smaller groups may help put some participants at ease. A second strategy is to ask opinion questions occasionally (e.g., “How do you feel about this?”). This may encourage participation by reducing participants’ fear of answering incorrectly. Another strategy is to have participants write out their answers to a question. Having the words written out may make it easier for a shy or fearful person to speak up.

The participant who is dominant:

Give the participant responsibility within the group or a role in which he or she has to fulfil. Reinforce alternative behaviour and introduce a quota system, in which each participant is given three stones or bits of paper, and they have to give one up every time they speak. When they have no more, they cannot speak again.

The discussion that turns into an argument:

In good discussions, conflicts will sometimes arise. If such conflicts are left ambiguous, they may cause continuing trouble. Some useful strategies in tackling these situations are as follows:

If the solution depends on certain facts, the facilitator can ask participants to refer to the text or another authority.

If there is an experimentally verified answer, the facilitator can use the opportunity to review the method by which the answer could be determined.

If the question is one of values, the facilitator may use the occasion to help participants become aware of the values involved.

The facilitator can list both sides of the argument on the board.

The facilitator can take a strong position as moderator, preventing participants from interrupting each other or speaking simultaneously. Facilitators can lay ground rules for discussion, such as asking participants to focus conflict on ideas rather than people and to resist being judgmental.

Unclear or hesitant comments:

The facilitator can encourage participants, who make unclear contributions, to give examples and factual evidence of their points. The facilitator can also restate points for verification or rejection by the participants, or give enthusiastic nonverbal cues and patience.

The discussion that goes off track:

Some facilitators keep discussions on track by listing the questions or issues they want to cover on the board or summarizing the discussion on the board as it proceeds. Stopping and asking a participant to summarize where the discussion is at the point it appears to go off track may also help.

The participant who verbally attacks the facilitator:

When participants argue for the sake of argument, facilitators might lose the battle if they are drawn into it.  Participants who verbally attack facilitators often want attention, so simply giving them some recognition while firmly moving on often takes care of the problem. If participants are simply trying to embarrass the facilitator, they may seek to make him or her defensive with such comments as, “How do you really know that…?” or “You’re not really saying that…?” Such questions can be handled by playing boomerang. The facilitator might say, “What I’m saying is…, but now I’d like you to share your perspective.” Turning the question back to that participant forces him or her to take responsibility for his or her opinion.

Additional strategies to handle these situations include:

  1. Confrontation

Facilitators can confront the questioner with their reactions to his or her behaviour. “I am uncomfortable with your questions and remarks. What I really hear you saying is, And I would like to hear…”

  1. Active listening

Facilitators can paraphrase the message they heard and check out the accuracy of their assumptions before responding.

  1. Locating

Facilitators can ask the participant to explain the context behind the question.

  1. Deferring

Often, the best strategy is to invite participants to come up after the session and arrange for a time to talk about the disagreement further, and then move the discussion on to another topic.





From the moment we get out of bed, we are bombarded with many distractions. Distractions include emails, notifications, messages, social media updates and many more have largely defined how we start the day. Within moments, our attention span gets shortened. Given the fast paced and busy schedules that most of us adhere to on a daily basis, how then do we slow down and focus in order to make correct and informed decisions? The answer is Mindfulness.

Each of us has 100 billion neuro connections in our brains. Yet, according to a study by Heart Math Institute, only about 15% of them are activated. This is because we focus so heavily on the outer world. Mindfulness is the practice of self observation without judgement, with a focus on inner world. Some mindful practices include daily meditations, blogging or jogging alone. In a fast paced world that we live in, mindfulness helps to clear our mind of distractions, retain focus on important priorities and be more creative. Dr Andrew Newberg, a Neurologist and Director of Research at Philadelphia’s Myrna Byrd Centre of Integrative Medicine, did a study on the brains of spiritual leaders during their meditation and prayers. He concluded that the more an individual does a “practice like” meditation, the bigger the brain gets and the better the brain functions.

Harvard University’s research showed that 2 months of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is the first study to prove that it produced physiological changes. MBSR has heightened cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which controls memory and the prefrontal cortex which affects planning, sight and emotions. The study also showed a decrease in brain cell volume in the amygdale, which triggers stress, anxiety and fear.

Therefore, a diligent approach to mindfulness can help that split second of a mental space between an event/stimulus and the response to it. A split second is all it takes to be the difference between making a rushed decision that potentially leads to failure and an informed decision that leads to performance enhancement. This is also the difference between reacting in anger and being patient and calm. No matter what happens externally, we always have a choice to find the meaning that we create internally.

At this point, some of us may start to wonder whether mindfulness training helps to develop people. The answer is Yes and No.

Yes, because studies have shown that mindfulness training improves three aspects of us at work: resilience, collaboration and ability to lead in challenging situations.

No, because mindfulness development depends on the level and amount of practice that is done on a regular basis. Without any or even minimal practice, mindfulness cannot be well developed.

According to Bill George, Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School, he shared that one of the reasons for Google’s success is that mindfulness is practiced to improve the health and decision making of its leaders. This is also the key factor for their innovative and harmonious culture. Research done by Mr Richard Davidson of Wisconsin demonstrated direct correlation between mindfulness and changes in the brain: move away from anger and anxiety and move towards a sense of calm and well-being. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)’s Mindful Awareness Research Centre discovered that mindful meditation increased attention span and decreased distraction better than medication in most cases.

One way to boost willpower and focus is to manage distractions instead of letting them manage us. The key to effective leadership is the ability to integrate our Head (IQ) with our Heart (EQ). Once we are able to successfully integrate them, leadership qualities such as passion, compassion, courage from the heart along with awareness, thought processes and informed decision making from the head can be exhibited.

Our minds and thoughts can be trained and results will show through regular practice. Here are some ways in which we can become more mindful:

  1. Practice at least 15 minutes of mindfulness training each day. Meditation or Yoga is a good start or just having more quiet time to connect with one’s inner world will allow for heighted suggestibility and improved performance.
  2. Remove all distractions such as phones, people, emails etc and focus solely on one’s breath, with the whole body relaxed throughout the session
  3. Avoid reading emails or looking at the phone/laptop screens first thing in the morning. This may increase the stress levels and distract the mind from its highest potential. Our minds are generally most focused, creative and expansive in the morning. Instead, look at them after practicing mindful training.
  4. Avoid multitasking. Multitasking allows the brain to shift from tasks to tasks, sometimes consciously or sub-consciously. Mentally shut down all incoming tasks entering our thoughts and maintain focus on the task on hand.
  5. Control one’s breathing: recommended to follow the Yoga’s Pranayama Breathing exercises for instance and feel the lightness in the body, all focus on self.
  6. Keep practicing daily and results will eventually show through the work output and the enhanced quality of life


Mindfulness training is not a magic that would give instant cures and remedies. But when this is practiced correctly and consistently, it will help us to select our responses more actively and make informed choices rather than succumb to reactionary decisions.

Written by Mugan TAYALAN (Facilitator)
on 3rd April 2017





Lessons that we can learn about the V Formation to succeed at work

Not every follower can be a great leader. But every great leader is a great follower. “If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far, you go as a team” – African Proverb

The importance of teamwork and leadership can be largely learnt from the V Formation of the Geese. During the fall, thousands of geese fly out of the cold winter. They will take flight above the waters and form a V-Shape flying pattern, known as the V Formation. There will be one rotating goose at the centre of the leading pack and all the other geese will fly behind in two close lines. Wildlife scientists have done extensive research and studies to determine why geese fly in this V Formation and the results were intriguing.

1)      When geese fly together, each goose provides additional lift and reduces air resistance for the trailing geese. This V Formation allows the geese to fly 70% further than an individual goose. Therefore, geese have discovered that by flying together, they spend lesser energy and shorter time to reach their goal.

The lesson that we can learn from this is that everyone in a team should be aligned towards a common goal. If one member decides to do everything alone, the member will require a great deal of time, effort and energy to reach the goal. But when everyone shares the common vision, goal and direction, tasks can be shared among members. Members should stay in formation and in unison towards the goal, while helping each other. This in turn creates synergy and enthusiasm which moves teams towards the goal faster and with lesser effort than an individual. Small effort, big results.

2)      When the lead bird gets tired, it moves to the rear of the formation to capitalise on the lifting power of the bird in front of it. The new lead bird takes charge and leads the flock. This rotation happens frequently due to the long journey towards the eventual destination.

The lesson that we can learn from this is leaders share the responsibilities within the team and sometimes, different members are empowered to lead when called upon. A leader should model the way and inspire a shared vision within the team to move towards the common goal. Micro-management and over leading may cause burn out, disengagement and low motivation among members. Enabling others to act with proper guidance will help the members gain more confidence and have more field experience. Great leaders do not always have to lead; they can be great followers and empower the rest of the members with the relevant skills and knowledge to become better, if not great leaders.

3)      Geese regularly make loud honking sounds when they are flying together. These sounds were done to communicate with the flock and encourage them to persevere on during the long journey. When one goose falls out due to sickness or being shot, two other geese follows it to help care for it till it either dies or is able to fly again. Thereafter, the geese form another formation to catch up with the front flock.

The lesson that we learn from this is many a times, things will not be smooth sailing. In organizational and teams setting, things will get VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Therefore, it is important to note that recognition and praise is duly given when members perform outstanding tasks or are able to get things moving towards the right direction. In many contexts, the lack of recognition regular open communication are some of the key factors in which a member feels unsatisfied and leaves a team, or worse still, leaves an organization. It is also common for members ‘efforts to go unnoticed in the busy and fast paced environment. Members should standby each other during the challenging times and the strong times. With praise, constant open communication, recognition and encouragement (encourage the heart); members will feel rejuvenated and motivated to achieve the common goal.

4)      Geese never change their routes and usually follow the same route, year in and year out. Even when the flock members change, the young geese learn the route from their parents. When spring arrives, the geese would fly back to its original location where they were born for food and breeding.

The lesson that we can learn from this is to always stay true to the core values and purpose. In a team or an organization, members, products and strategies may change due to the demands of the market. But the core values and purpose separates a good team and a great team. It is easy and comfortable to always want to be a part of the winning team. But when members face challenging times (VUCA), grinding tasks and results together forges stronger bonds and higher commitments.


With the spirit of teamwork, regardless of any differences, members can meet the challenges and reach the goals much more efficiently. Time and tide waits for no men and women. Thus, it is imperative to adopt the lessons learnt from the geese to work together effectively towards achieve success as one team.


Written by Mugan TAYALAN (Facilitator)
on 3rd April 2017





Here is a list of 12 things which, if we give up on them, would make our life a lot more productive and happier. We hold onto so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering. Instead of letting them all go and allow ourselves to be stress free and happy, we cling onto them. Therefore, we should give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we would embrace change.

  1. Give up our need to always be right

There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong, wanting to be right at all times, even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever we feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, we should ask ourselves this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” We should let our ego down and see the difference that it can make.

  1. Give up our need for control

Be willing to give up our need to always control everything that happens to us and around us, situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, colleagues, or just strangers we met on the street, just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and we will realize how much better that will make us feel.

“By letting it go, it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try in vain, the world is beyond winning.” – Lao Tzu

  1. Give up our self-defeating, self-talk

How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that our mind is telling us, especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. We are much better than that.

“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” – Eckhart Tolle

  1. Give up our limiting beliefs

Give up our limiting beliefs about what we can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. Henceforth, we should not allow our limiting beliefs to keep us stuck in the wrong place. We should spread our wings and fly.

“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” – Elly Roselle

  1. Give up complaining

Give up our constant need to complain about people, situations and events that make us unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make us unhappy; no situation can make us sad or miserable unless we allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in us, but how we choose to look at it. We should never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

  1. Give up our need to impress others 

Stop trying so hard to be something that we are not just to make others like us. It doesn’t work this way. The moment we stop trying so hard to be something that we’re not, the moment we take off all our masks, the moment we accept and embrace the real us, we will find that people will be drawn to us effortlessly.

  1. Give up our resistance to change

Change is good. Change will help us move from A to B. Change will help us make improvements in our lives and also the lives of those around us. The only thing that is constant is change. So, we should not resist, but to embrace change.

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” – Joseph Campbell

  1. Give up labels

Stop labeling those things, people or events that we don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening our minds, little by little. Minds only work when they are open.

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” – Wayne Dyer

  1. Give up on your fears

Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist. It is created by us. It’s all in our minds. Therefore, we should correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.

“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

  1. Give up our excuses

Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. We no longer need them. Many times, we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we give. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves and giving all kind of excuses which are not real most of the time.

  1. Give up the past

This may appear hard, especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening. But we have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all that we have and all that we will ever have. The past that we are now longing for – the past that we are now dreaming about – was ignored by us when it was present. We should stop deluding ourselves and be present in everything we do and enjoy life. After all, life is a journey, not the destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare ourselves and always be present in the now.

  1. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations

Many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need, and eventually they forget about themselves. We all have one life, that is the one right now. We must live it, own it and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract us from our path.