Be useful

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Alternative names: 
Supportive thinking instead of negative criticism
Schools of Thought: 
Intent or purpose: 
The facilitator can use this process to either introduce a new method that would be helpful for the participants and their work or when he/she thinks that someone could use the other's input without taking too much of their time.
Used as component of: 
This process is used to discuss questions or issues that puzzle or bother someone in the group.
Recommended size of group: 
Remarks about group size: 
The group of unknown size has to be divided into subgroups of 4 - 6 persons.
Optimal amount of time needed: 
The method itself requires about 15 – 30 minutes, however including the introduction and reflection a time of about 30 – 45 should be scheduled.
Usual or Expected Outcomes: 
One or more solution(s) to participant X's problem. Each advise can be written down on a little post-it and handed to participant X as a "gift".
Level of participation: 
The level of participation is normal. The participant X has to be open for new solutions. The other parttakers have to respect X's problem.
Ideal Conditions: 
For this method social skills e.g. respect for others are required.
Potential Pitfalls: 
If participant X is not open for new solutions it can be very frustrating for the others to occupy themselves with his/her problem.
How is success evaluated: 
The process is successful when participant X is satisfied with one or more solution(s).
Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: 
There needs to be a certain level of trust between the facilitator and the participants as a problem has to be shared.
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate: 
Not set
Setting and Materials: 
No material is needed, recommended however is a chart board in order to write down the different steps and time frames, and post-its/pencils to write down the advise.

1. Form subgroups of 4 - 6 persons.
2. Ask which participant(X) has a problem/issue with which he would like to get some advise from others.
3. Appoint someone to keep track of the time and procedure.
4. Make sure everybody understands the different steps for advising participant X, and which are the following:

5. Participant X has 5 minutes to explain his/her problem and to articulate his/her expectations about the outcome. Here the others only listen.
6. The listeners now have 5 minutes to ask participants informative questions only!
7. The next 10 minutes are used to think about the issue and to give participant X suggestions. Participant X will only listen to the advises and information that is given to him by the other participants. THe tips can be written down on post-its and handed to participant X as a "gift".
8. What follows is a dialogue of about 10 minutes between participant X and the other parttakers in order to elaborate on the suggestions. Here socratic questions can be helpful (What, Why, When, How, Where.
9.As the last step the facilitator encourages a reflection asking questions like: How did you experience the procedure?, Have you been successful in supportive thinking?, Have the expectations of X been fulfilled?, What useful things did the others pick out of it for themselves ?

How flexible is the process?: 
The process is very flexible, as it can deal with a wide range of problems.
Follow-Up Required: 
There is no follow-up requiered, however participant X could inform the others about the outcome of their inputs.
Patrick Boel - June, 2006