Our chapter is struggling with the issue of a member who wants to share a personal experience with the group but is faced with breaking a parallel confidentiality agreement made with the third parties that share the experience with him. How can members maintain and respect parallel agreements while still sharing their experience with the group? – An EO Forum Chair
I have personally run into this conflict and have often been asked about it in Forum trainings. I believe that the point of Forum is to improve relationships and leadership skills by more clearly seeing and taking responsibility for our own behavior. My experience is that finding and giving the real presentation inside the “surface story” is a big contributor to accomplishing that objective.
For example, let's say that I am very disappointed every time I get together with my brother, who now lives in another city. We always end up fighting and get angry with one another. The surface story is about the fight we just had, and the fact that it is a pattern, and that I believe I would like to have a good relationship— but somehow he always picks a fight. However, the real story would be much more appropriate to tell, and perhaps it would be something like this:
It always takes two to fight and two to create conflict and tension. I need to understand the complex relationship and emotions that are at play in this situation— what causes my grief and stress? Do I harbor those emotions and allow them to surface in other relationships around me, such as with my kids or employees? The trick is to find my own triggers and explore those with the Forum group.
The core beliefs that underlie Forum are critical to divining a great presentation topic rather than just telling a story:
First core belief: We all have our own answers. Therefore, the person presenting is aware at some level of the triggers and patterned behavior that is now contributing to this distressing situation. The process of preparing and giving this presentation would help the presenter to become consciously aware of his or her own triggers, beliefs and patterns, and enable the decision to change them.
Second core belief: The only person we can change is ourselves. To make a change in this pattern and have a different outcome in the future, the presenter must find a way to change his or her beliefs about the other person, his or her behaviors and the emotional "charge" in the situation. When he or she decides to make that internal change, he or she can completely change the situation and resolve issues.
Therefore, the presentation can be about a number of relationships with this trigger response – my own contributions, my own reactions and what I would like to change – rather than a story about what someone else did and said. When we tell our own stories, we offer the most value to Forum and also run the smallest risk of hurting those outside the group (i.e., business and personal relationships).