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How Do You Feel?

The debriefing model that I use begins with this question:

How do you feel about the activity and the results?

The purpose of this question is to give an opportunity for the participants to get their feelings and emotions off their chest and get ready for the intellectual analysis in the latter phases of debriefing. Skipping the step can be hazardous: The participants can be so preoccupied with their own internal conversations about their feelings that they do not mindfully participate in the external conversation. Also, their responses to other questions (such as What happened during the activity? or What did you learn from the activity?) are likely to involve emotional outbursts or griping comments.

Many facilitators avoid or skip any discussion about feelings and emotions during the debriefing. Usually, they project their reluctance to the participants and explain that this particular group does not like to discuss touchy-feely issues because they are engineers (or accountants or managers or whatever). If you really believe in tapping into emotional intelligence and combining it with the other forms of intelligence, you probably would not skip this phase of debriefing.

But this does not mean that you should overemphasize the discussion of feelings. Explain that your aim is just to give people an opportunity to briefly vent their frustrations or share their elations and move on to the other phases of debriefing. Treat the statements as bits of information and not as personal attacks. Don't get defensive. Discourage the participants from attempting in depth psychoanalysis of different feelings.

If you are still uncomfortable asking How do you feel?, change your question to What are your reactions to the activity?

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