Wherever people work together they also communicate. Communication is simply the sending and receiving of messages. Generally this does not cause too many problems, but breakdowns can often occur between the sender and the receiver. Communication takes place in many different ways. We mainly use it on a conscious level; we talk to each other, we read books, look at pictures or watch television and in doing so, we send or receive information.
People also communicate with each other during creativity sessions. We try to give and receive information in different ways. During these sessions there are a number of different aspects of communication that deserve further attention. These aspects can be divided into two groups, i.e.:
- Making conscious use of a kind of breakdown in communication, i.e. differences in interpretation;
- Prevention of real breakdowns in communication.
We use creativity and apply it in our methods to try to create new, original thoughts, ideas and solutions that can help us to solve our problems. For this purpose we make use of the human brain’s ability to associate, to get from one thought to another, without any apparent logical link between them.
If we examine the flow of ideas during a session more closely, we perceive what we call “turning points”. These are associations brought about by a different interpretation of a concept. For example, one of the participants says the word “buck” (meaning the animal) and someone else comes up with another association in which the word “buck” is understood as meaning a dollar.
Facilitators as well as participants can make use of this. Recognizing, seeking and stressing these concepts stimulates creativity.
Making use of differences in interpretation provides the opportunity to stimulate creativity. It is also very important to prevent actual breakdowns in communication during sessions. A number of aspects of a good mutual exchange of information are explained below.
The receiving of information is necessary for the proper understanding of the messages from the other participants. It is normal for these messages to bring your own flow of thoughts into action (by association etc.) and to be derived from the story being told. A simple aid to help you to keep concentrating on the speaker is the interim noting down of thoughts by the receiver, so your attention can once more be turned towards the person telling the story.
- Body language
The body is also a sender of information. It is important for both the sender and the receiver that the message being sent is supported by the language spoken by the body. The physical signals that someone sends out can be perceived and reacted to if necessary. Disinterest, embarrassment, restlessness, anger, joy, etc. are often clearly manifested. It is primarily up to the facilitator to react to this and to lead the process in a desirable direction.
- Giving everyone a chance
Very often communication breaks down because each participant is caught up in his/her own thought flow and wants to communicate these thoughts to the whole group. As a result group discussions often turn into (violent) discussions in which only one’s own opinion appears to be of importance.
In group discussions it is important to arrive at a dialogue instead of a discussion. A good aid for this is to collectively agree that every participant waits 5 seconds before reacting after the previous speaker has finished. You can then be sure the previous speaker has definitely finished, and you can take time to collect your thoughts and not overreact.
There are of course many other issues of importance to participants in creativity sessions as far as communication is concerned. The points mentioned here are only a small aid to improving the quality of the sessions. However, this is as far as we can go in this book; further reading, practicing and getting experience are the best ways of mastering creative thinking.
Source: ‘Innovation by Creativity’ – Hans Terhurne & Max van Leeuwen