Who invented the Name Tags?

My closest colleagues know that I’m not a name tag lover. Of course, I understand the significance of name tags. Our individual names are very important and wearing name tags is another way of presenting ourselves, of silently introducing ourselves, of saying, “I’m here!”. Name tags are also important for facilitators. Facilitators don’t need to remember all the participants’ names by heart. The name tags will do it for the facilitators.

I know that a name tag is just a small thing that hangs around the neck. They are either in white, in blue or in another colour. But sometimes they are bigger than the nose and eyes put together. They also present no personality whatsoever. In an event, everyone will be wearing the same name tag. And so I love to draw hearts, to letter my name or to not wear the name tag at all. It’s just NOT so creative!

So it was quite a surprise for me when I entered the meeting room of the Creative Facilitation workshop by Partners for Youth Empowerment in Brussels. I was expecting a person sat by the desk armed with name tags, ready and eager to have the participants hang them excitedly around their necks. But no, I was greeted by three tables covered in art supplies. There were different kinds of pens, different colours of papers, stickers, glue, strings, scissors… It was time to create your very own name tag and I really love this idea.

And so I decided to adopt this to my workshops, the very first one was the Visualisation Workshop I facilitated in the Philippines. It was a success. Participants came in and created their own name tags. I sensed the eagerness in the air and all the creative juices flowing. It was fun. In the end, different name tag personalities emerged. It was so lovely to witness the process and to see the beautiful outcome. So let’s do it again!


Facilitating with patience

I was observing a training in a province in Cambodia. It was a very hot day as Cambodia was approaching the hottest season. During the lunch break, the participants laid on the tiled floor of the training room. It was a refreshing break, away from the sun, with the air-conditioning cooling the air. When the time came for the training to continue, the participants sat in a circle. In the middle of the circle, the child of one of the participants was still asleep covered in a red blanket. Nobody minded. We went on with the training.

When the facilitator started talking, the girl who was asleep on the floor in the middle of the room woke up and started crying. Then something happened that I did not expect at all. When the child started making noise, the facilitator did not tell the mother to go and take the child away. He did not say, the child was disturbing the training. But instead he said simply, “Oh, I think I was talking too loud.”

The facilitator’s patience surprised me. He was acting with kindness. Technically, I can see he was a good facilitator. But no, he was better. He was facilitating with patience.

Think about how you deal with unexpected disturbances in your work. How can you relate to others with patience and kindness?