It is vital to create, foster, and support safe spaces where participants can learn together. In a society that is openly hostile towards critical perspectives, participants in any activity need support when they make their voices heard. Establishing a safe space is powerful, positive, and hopeful, and hope is a requirement for excellent facilitation.
Seven Ways to Create Safe Space
1. Acknowledge that everyone has preconceived ideas about others– or prejudices– that can damage others and ourselves.
2. Ask participants, “Who should be in this group but is not?”
3. Focus and limit our conversations until trust increases (sometimes it is better to agree not to talk about specific issue/problem right away.
4. As the facilitator, seek true dialogue and ask real questions.
5. Encourage participants to examine their personal assumptions by checking in with others rather than hiding or defending them.
6. Speak from personal experience by using I statements and do not generalize about others.
7. Be open to a change of heart as well as a change in thinking.