Regret over too much sharing from previous session
Question: How to facilitate and process feelings of a participant who think they said too much and regret sharing in a previous session?
So, if I understand, it’s an ongoing group that comes together, somebody in a session felt they shared too much. Now in a subsequent session, they said I’m feeling uncomfortable, nervous, scared because I said too much before
I might use humor as I say, “I’m about to ask you to share more and so, you may not want to. But, I’m curious, could you say more about what you’re feeling now? My guess is from what you’ve shared is before you felt comfortable enough to share, but afterwards, you were wondering if you shared too much. Could you say more about some of your concerns or fears?”
If they’re willing, I then might relate in and say, “I relate, and my guess is other people might be feeling the same thing. So, I’m just going to look around and see how many folks relating. How many people relating to what they’re saying? Have you ever felt too vulnerable after you’ve shared in this group or anther workshop?”
Now, it’s a little risky to do this because if no one puts up their hand, then in fact, that has the chance that someone is feeling even more alone. But if you’re watching the room earlier and you see some people nodding then it is a reasonable risk.
At this point I might say, “I’m really glad you brought this up because what that says to me as the facilitator is we need to reestablish our container for authentic dialogue. The questions that come up in me are, “What do people need to hear from others so that we know this a brave space where we can have conversations? When people share honestly and vulnerably, what do we need to do as a group to let them know we appreciate what they said, and we hear them?”
I’d then ask people to reflect on those to questions and make some notes. Then I lead a large group discussion that essentially helps us reweave the learning container.
Another approach before or after the re-norming, is to say to the participant, “I’m guessing you’re talking about when you told the story about X. Am I right? As I look back, we didn’t spend a lot of time following up and engaging with you after you spoke. I apologize for moving so quickly. I would love to ask the group now to share the impact on them of your sharing that story. Would you be open to that?”
Notice, I’m having them control the whole thing because they’re feeling nervous, scared that they said too much. So, they could feel done and want to move on. But, given the fact that they came back and said that they felt vulnerable & scared, is a clue they are wanting to reconnect with the group. So, I might say, “I personally really appreciated your story and I apologize I didn’t say it last session. I was actually thinking about what you said the next day. And here is what came up for me…. How do others relate to me or their story from last time?”
If they’re feeling vulnerable & exposed, hearing you & other people get vulnerable and appreciate their story can help rebuild trust.
Often when people feel exposed and vulnerable, several things could be going on. One is they shared something they never shared before and like I just mentioned, the group did not meet them. So in real time, if my gut says this is a powerful moment of sharing at a new level for the group, I’ll appreciate them and then ask others, “What’s the impact of hearing them share so powerfully?”
Or you can connect and relate in first to model ways to do this, and then invite others in: “I really appreciate what you just shared. You’ve got me really thinking about myself. I’m full of emotion hearing your story. I appreciate what I’m learning. Everyone just take a moment, and relate in. I’d love three people to talk about what’s the real time impact of hearing their story.”
And then, the second question could be who else relates? Who’s got a story that will build on what they said and bring in some other perspectives?
I do these types of steps if my gut says, whoa, they went further and deeper than someone has yet. We can always slow down to rebuild the container of trust and community in the moment.