In larger groups, such as those with up to 16 participants, keeping track of everyone’s contributions can be challenging. This is where note-taking and using your own abbreviations can be incredibly helpful. Let’s consider a scenario: two individuals share deeply emotional stories within the group. Later on, you want to reference something one of them said, addressing them directly. However, in the midst of the conversation, their stories become swapped by mistake. Imagine how this could make them feel—unseen, invalidated, unheard.
At ShareWell, our primary goal is to ensure that everyone feels acknowledged, heard, and validated in their experiences. We understand that typing is generally faster than writing, making it the practical choice for many. However, we also want you to choose the method that feels most comfortable and effective for you. Regardless of the approach, our shared mission is to create an environment where peer support thrives, and every voice is valued and respected.
- Follow-up in session: Reference your notes as follow-up questions later on in a session, if it’s applicable. OR in a future session, e.g., “You were supposed to go to the Redwood Forest last week, right? Were you able to go? How was it?”
- Character development observations: Sometimes, we want to make observations on the growth of someone’s character that we’ve been in several sessions with. It’s good practice to preface the observation with a, “do you mind if I make an observation about you?” (Otherwise, you’re giving unsolicited opinions, thereby violating someone else’s emotional/intellectual boundaries.)
- Recognition outside of sessions:In the discussion forum, it is nice to tag other people you have been in session with and ask them how they are holding up, or how the recent trip was that they were looking forward to, or how their dinner date went, etc. It makes people feel seen and validated when the host remembers details about a peers’ share.
- Attention and Recognition: When the host takes notes on each participant, it signals that they are paying close attention to what each person is saying and that their contributions are valuable and noteworthy.
- Inclusivity: It shows that everyone’s input is important and that no one is being left out or overlooked. This can create a sense of inclusivity and equality within the group.
- Respect: Note-taking demonstrates respect for each person’s perspective and ideas. It sends a message that the host values and respects the opinions and experiences of their peers.
- Feedback and Improvement: When notes are taken, it can lead to constructive feedback and follow-up discussions. This process helps individuals feel that their thoughts and suggestions are taken seriously, contributing to personal growth and development.
- Documentation of Ideas: The act of taking notes preserves participants’ ideas and contributions, ensuring that they are not forgotten or lost. This documentation can be referred to in future discussions or projects, reinforcing the importance of their input.
- Accountability: Taking notes holds both the host and participants accountable for their commitments and contributions during the session. It reinforces a sense of responsibility for what was discussed and agreed upon.
- Active Engagement: Participants may feel more engaged and encouraged to participate actively in the session when they see the host diligently recording their thoughts. This can enhance the overall quality of the discussion.
- Enhanced Communication: Notes can help clarify and summarize key points, ensuring that everyone understands the main takeaways from the session. This can improve communication and reduce misunderstandings.
- Validation of Diverse Perspectives: By documenting various viewpoints and experiences, note-taking acknowledges the diversity of perspectives within the group. It shows that the host values the richness of different ideas and backgrounds.
- Long-Term Impact: Notes can have a lasting impact by serving as a reference point for future decisions and actions. This reinforces the notion that participants’ contributions are part of a meaningful and ongoing process.
In summary, taking notes on every individual in a session not only helps capture important information but also fosters a positive and inclusive atmosphere where peers feel heard, respected, and validated in their contributions. Of course, hypervigilance in your note-taking isn’t what is being suggested here; just casual notes, regarding and remarking on some of the most important things others share in the session. We encourage you to try using your own version of shorthand, or abbreviations, so long as you understand what you wrote. It’s a simple way to stay present and mindful of the conversation.