Scenario: Smack

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation:

A participant ‘playfully’ hits another member on the back of the head.

 

Tags: Action Learning Coach, WIAL Action Learning

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Comments (9)

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    donna

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    Here’s a moment for some courage! I have never seen anyone react positively to being ‘playfully’ hit in the back of the head. I would immediately ask the group if there is an impact to the group from this behavior. I imagine this response to also not be positive–if so, I would ask what the group would like to do in setting norms for behavior.

    The real issue may surface if the person who did the hitting reacts negatively to a likely ‘group censure’. If so–I would call a break and speak to the “hitter.” As a facilitator, if this individual is not willing to follow group norms–then I might have to ask this person to leave. If the individual is aware of the inappropriateness of the hitting and seeks to repair impressions with an apology to the person and the group, then following break we can continue. But I would be mindfully aware of any aggressive behavior of this person towards others–for quick action. I imagine this to be quite poisonous behavior for the group functioning well.

    Very contextual–as always! But I don’t see this as behavior that can be ignored or tolerated.

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    Verieux Mourillon

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    This happens more easily and is taken more lightly in some cultures than in others. In some Caribbean countries it is likely that no great attention would be paid to this especially if the participants were well acquainted with each other. Nonetheless, as coach i would draw some attention to it in order to ensure that the group is aware and that they are sensitive to the fact that not all participants would be equally comfortable with even having this done in their presence. So I would say to the group that i observed that A gave B a clout within our session and I would ask the group what is the importance of setting norms around such behaviors in our work setting. If all members of the group are encouraged to participate in this discussion it should become clear that this is not a behavior to be encouraged in the work setting. The next step would be for the group to establish a group norm around this,

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    Will

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    This behaviour isn’t acceptable however ‘playful’. While the person doing the slapping may be unaware of the inappropriateness of this behaviour, others, including the person being hit, may feel differently. Verieux, above, makes the point that it could at the least make some feel uncomfortable. I would intervene straight away to bring it to everyone’s attention. I would be clear, objective and calm in stating it is not acceptable. I would quickly seek to move the issue to a more general point around protocols for appropriate professional behaviour and respecting for each other, asking the group to explain why this is important. This can lead to creating a protocol for the group to agree, or if it is in-company I’m sure someone from the group would reference a relevant company policy that they should be aware of.

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    Will

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    This behaviour isn’t acceptable however ‘playful’. While the person doing the slapping may be unaware of the inappropriateness of this behaviour, others, including the person being hit, may feel differently. Verieux, above, makes the point that it could at the least make some feel uncomfortable. I would intervene straight away to bring it to everyone’s attention. I would be clear, objective and calm in stating what I observed. I would ‘what is the impact of this on a group? I would seek to move the issue to a more general learning point around protocols for appropriate professional behaviour and respect for each other, asking the group to explain why this is important. This can lead to creating a protocol for the group to agree, or if it is in-company I’m sure someone from the group would reference a relevant company policy that they should be aware of.

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    Kris

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    Smacking someone at the back of the head is very humiliating in our culture. This behaviour is unacceptable even if it is deemed as “playful”. I will intervene immediately. I will state what I observed and ask the team how they feel about that act and “what impact does that behaviour have on the team?” Like Donna and Will, I will ask what the team would like to do in setting norms for behaviours.

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    urszula gasior

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    As Kris wrote smacking someone at the back of the head is totally unaccceptable also in my culture. This is a very rude behaviour even if it is driven by emotions. I would intervene immediately. Start with saying what I observed and asking a person who was smacked how she/he feels and whether everything is ok. Then ask the team how they feel about that behaviour, what impact it had on the team and what actions the team thinks shall follow this incident.

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    DrBea

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    I too would intervene immediately, bring attention to the behavior not the participants. (obviously, if the person was hurt more direct action would be needed. For this scenario, we will assume they are not.)

    I’d still start with the 3 standard questions (How are we doing as a team? What are we doing well? What can we do better?) as this is a great way of lowering emotions before getting to the discussion of the issue. This also gives the team the chance to self identify the situation.

    If the behavior didn’t come up. I would continue with –
    I observed someone bopping (unless at this point I felt a stronger word was needed) someone else. Did anyone else notice that?
    What’s the impact of this behavior on the entire team?
    What norms shall we set for professional behavior for this team?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    abhinav

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    I would intervene – how are we going as a team? I would let the team acknowledge it, after that i would say What’s the impact of this behavior on the entire team? Followed by what are we going to do about it?

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  • Avatar

    PUVANESWARAN KUNASEKARAN

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    Smacking another person directly or indirectly is unhealthy for the entire team dynamics. I would immediately intervene without any delay by asking the team;

    1) What is happening?
    2) What is the impact of this kind of behavior on the team?
    3) How are we going to do better?

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