How to Say No Without Feeling “Icky” About It – Reflections from a Facilitator

Every now and then when I facilitate sessions, I make tiny packages for the participants with little inspirational messages. Why? Because we all need a cute little message sometimes.

And I honestly don’t know whether I have more fun making and sharing them or whether the participants have more fun opening them.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of facilitating a themed coaching circle with a group of phenomenal professional women. This particular session was called “How to Say No Without Feeling ‘Icky’ About It.”

Not only did these women show up prepared with notes on the coaching circle questions (essentially their initial reflections on their personal strengths, their opportunities for development, and where they want to stretch out of their comfort zones), but they also had the courage to be vulnerable and share their fears and challenges with each other.

I was thrilled to see them taking notes on each other’s responses, connecting as human beings, and coming up with their own concrete action steps to help them become better at setting healthy boundaries in the workplace (and in their lives).

This particular session helped to confirm my thoughts about how we learn best and the benefits of peer learning. (My short handout on setting healthy boundaries was the last thing I shared VERY briefly, so as not to take away from the wonderful internally-generated insights that surfaced during the session.)

I am continuously blown away by the people that I get to work with. Beyond the engagement of these women in the session, watching their reactions when they opened their little packages and read out their messages was priceless. The joy, the heartfelt thank you’s, and the participant who actually welled up a little totally melted my heart.

And of course, I had to add a little twist to this activity – one lucky participant received an extra envelope so that she could “pay it forward” to someone in her life who might need a little pick me up. (She’s going to be giving it to her best friend :)

I’m facilitating more themed coaching circles (both virtually and in person for leaders and aspiring leaders). The participants yesterday were really keen on the next two that I have in the pipeline – how to harness the power of vulnerability in the workplace and creating psychological safety in the workplace. I’d love to hear other ideas for coaching circle themes, so feel free to drop me a note if you have any thoughts on this.

And for those of you who are curious about my facilitation style and what it’s like to work with me, here’s a little feedback from a past coaching circle participant.

“Nayla set very clear parameters for the circle and made it a supportive learning experience – there was no ‘doing it wrong.’ She turned each moment into an opportunity to learn without judgment. Her gentle energy combined with her crystal clear instructions made it feel so safe and even fun to try this new skill.” Catch the full testimonial HERE (simply scroll down to it).

Thank you for being a part of my community. It’s because of people like you that I am continuously inspired to help leaders learn, grow, and discover new ways to exercise leadership in the workplace.