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Words of Wisdom

52 cards and 15 activities to spark conversations and make sense of learning.
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What We Do

The Firefly Group helps people make sense of what they learn and experience.

Whether facilitating a group for better decision-making, keynoting a conference, leading a training, or writing an instructional design, we use novel methods that engage, spark creativity, and produce memorable results.

If this sounds like a good direction for your organization, let's talk about how we might collaborate! Please give me a call (802.257.7247) or send an . - Brian

Your ETR (Estimated Time to Read): 10 minutes
Your ETII (Estimated Time to Implement Ideas):
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April 2018
It's April Fools: Time for Deception

Say It Quick
a thoughtful message in exactly 99 words

bits of serendipity to inspire and motivate
fuel for your own continuous learning
tips and tricks you can try today

No, Gracias - Lying to Prevent Over Consumption

Role Play - Principles to Increase Effectiveness

Deception - Lying and Learning

Three Truths and a Fib - What's Good about Lying

Say It Quick

It's April Fools: Time for Deception

Lying can be good for learning. This is not fake news. White lies, fibs, pretending, and deception are ways to teach concepts and practice skills. In this issue of the Firefly News Flash, you can review nine ways to make role plays more effective. And you'll find a fun activity to spark conversation about what it takes to build trust in a team. Start with this story in just 99 Words.

No, Gracias
A txoco is a Basque club where thirty or more friends cook and feast for up to 6 hours. The food just keeps coming. After only the second course, my belt was ready to burst. "Leave something on your plate so people don't try to keep filling it," my wife advised.

Sounds like the office: pretend to be busy so the boss doesn't ladle more onto your plate!

Do we encourage people to lie to protect their "waistline?" A clean plate could also mean they're evaluating their latest efforts, getting ready for a new project, resting, digesting.



Role Play: Principles to Increase Effectiveness
by Les Lauber

Let's call this a rediscovery for this month.

I was working with a group of trainers who were teaching a sensitive topic. They were using a role play to demonstrate how to react when co-workers are disrespectful in the workplace. But I couldn't help wondering whether the participants might be learning more about negative behaviors than the positive actions we wanted them to have.

Deciding it was time to refresh my memory about using role plays, I turned to an essay by Les Lauber in The Handbook of Experiential Learning edited by Mel Silberman.

Lauber describes nine principles for effective role plays.

Lauber provides examples from the training room to illustrate each of these principles. And he discusses six different ways to provide participants with the valuable feedback they need to make role play an effective learning strategy.

More Information:

"Role Play: Principles to Increase Effectiveness" by Les Lauber, The Handbook of Experiential Learning, Mel Silberman editor, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2007.

"Half Belief and the Power of Pretending," The Firefly News Flash, March 2017, http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2017/March%202017.htm

"The Invention of Lying," a film directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, which depicts a world where fibs are unknown yet one character develops the ability to lie, 2009 rated PG-13.



Deception Lying and Learning

In the 99-Word Story, I raise the question of whether and when it might be acceptable to stretch the truth. It's something we do frequently and sometimes without thinking about the consequences. We justify our deception with dozens of excuses from being culturally sensitive to saving ourselves from overwork. White lies accumulate over time in ever greying layers that blur the truth and compromise our values.

Yet in other situations, a lie can be part of the fun. Deception is integral to April Fools' Day when, in North America, we play tricks on one another in the name of springtime frivolity.

Deception can also be an active tool for learning. In a role play, participants pretend to be someone they are not. They act in ways they never have before in fabricated situations while being watched by observers who play the role of critic, coach, or judge. Yet all this lying can result in profound learning and changed behavior back on the job.

Role play is more than a chance to try on a new hat. You can try a whole new wardrobe! Trainers and facilitators have an obligation to create the safest environment for all their participants to wear "new clothes" without the fear of judgment or repercussion.

I often tell my participants, "You are learning something new so no one expects you to be perfect. Go ahead, make lots of mistakes. Better to make them here where it doesn't matter than back in 'real life' where it might."

Fear of making a mistake or looking foolish is natural. So if people cringe at the mention of doing a role play, try using a bit of deception and call it a "Structured Behavioral Rehearsal."



Three Truths and a Fib

Pretense and half belief are important for learning, creativity, dealing with stress, and getting along with difficult people. For a deeper discussion about the importance of pretending, see The Firefly News Flash for March 2017. http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2017/March%202017.htm

But whether you are playing an April Fools' Day trick or playing a role in a training, deceiving others is not always bad. You can begin a conversation about positive deception with your team using this activity.

Three Truths and a Fib

Materials: Pens and paper for each person
Time: 20 minutes
Participants: Any size group

Explain that no matter how well we know someone, there are always things we don't know as well as we might. Ask people to take a few moments to think about their life, experiences, and interests. What are some things most people would not know about them? What are some experiences and interests they wish they had had?

Distribute paper and pens. Ask people to think of three true experiences or interests about themselves that they would not mind sharing. Ask them to also think of something that is not true about themselves but that someone might believe. Have them write all four items in random order on their paper.

Coaching Tips: Try to write the true items and the fib in a way that it would be hard to tell them apart. Be inventive as you describe the truths. For example, "I like to snowboard," might become, "I once skied all the way down a mountain on just one ski." Mix the fib in with the truths to make it more difficult to guess which is which.

Next, allow about 10 minutes for people to mill around the room looking at other people's lists and trying to guess which are the truths and which are the fibs.

After sufficient time, invite everyone to sit in a circle and, one by one, reveal their fib from their truths. Follow up with a discussion using questions from the list below. Additionally, you can introduce the Johari Window as a way to gain insight about self-awareness and personal relationships.


Please give this activity a trial with your group then your experience.


If you like what you have read in this issue, I would like to bring the same innovation, creativity, and playfulness to your next meeting or learning event.

Whether you need a keynote speaker, or help with strategic planning, performance improvement, or training facilitators and trainers in your organization, I look forward to your call (802.380.4360) or .

-- Brian

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