Wednesday, August 4, 2010

3 E's Of A Great Brainstorm Session (Also Good For Relating With Others)

In prepping for a quick coaching session for a friend on how to lead a great brainstorm session, it occurred to me that the same "ingredients" for a great brainstorm are also good to pour into our everyday relationships.

1. Enthusiasm

You must feel the topic and transfer that feeling to the participants. The feelings must be positive and strong. For a brainstorm, it's easy - you're usually assembled for a specific time and topic. In a relationship - be it a work or personal one - you have to work to stay inspired and keep your enthusiasm real. One way I do this in my relationship with my kids is to daily think of 3 ways to encourage each of them and positively reinforce them in their areas of enthusiasm (ie. both kids play instruments so I ask to hear the latest song they are working on).

2. Energy

Keeping a high level of positive energy is critical in drawing the best ideas out of others. Smiling. Being silly and pouncing on every positive vibe keeps a good brainstorm session flowing. Clearly, there are moments of negative energy but the key is to keep them at a minimum - acknowledge and live them but  do not allow them momentum of any kind. Our relationships are no different. In fact, I would say that energy is great indicator of the overall health of a relationship. My best advice for keeping positive energy flowing in relationships is to adopt "an attitude of gratitude." Think of why you are grateful for the people you choose to do life with. Can't find any positive energy? Then it's time to move on.

3. Expression

Every participant in a brainstorm session "brings something to the party." The key is getting them to express it to the group. An experienced brainstorm leader knows that this requires super hero-like expression skills to draw each individual into the conversation. Lots of reading non-verbal cues. The confidence to let the room go silent to get participation without losing everyone in the process. Again, not unlike relating to others in our life. We must encourage authentic expression, without judgement.
Some times we must forgo our "right to express" in the best interests keeping lines of communication open for all.

It's amazing how taking the time to dissect these for my brainstorm coaching session was a sweet reminder of three excellent areas that contribute to helping us relate better with others.

Can you add more E's to this list?

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