Thinking Out Loud (if commenting online isn’t for you)

Thinking Out Loud (if commenting online isn’t for you)

group thinkSocial media, including Blogs, Facebook, Company Websites and LinkedIn for example, can be a source of useful information and ideas. By the same token, sharing, discussing and expressing your views via these forums can be scary and at times very challenging.

For example over the last week I’ve had mixed experiences. One was a positive online discussion where the people involved shared differing views in a respectful and engaging debate that, by the end of it, all involved acknowledged having learnt from each other. Yet, in another forum the conversation was quickly shut down when the forum’s subject matter expert, who didn’t share an enthusiasm for the topic being discussed, joined the conversation that effectively put a halt to any learning that may have resulted from the discussion.

This is the very nature of online ‘discussion’. When we share ideas, opinions and views in a space where the only feedback is through words or images on a screen, the ‘conversation’ is limited and we shouldn’t be surprised when they aren’t as effective as we may hope.

So the easy answer would be to just avoid social media right? Well yes, of course that’s a simple fix, but what about the good information that is shared that sparks questions in your mind, that get’s you thinking and creates a desire to know more? If you simply avoid it then you may miss out on some great information. Is there a way to meet this need while avoiding online discussion?

I’ve been talking with a number of people lately who also enjoy thinking, sharing and learning, however they don’t like the idea of, or have become frustrated by, commenting in online forums. This is understandable. While we would love to encourage more people to share their views and ask questions about the articles we write, we accept that there are some people that just don’t feel comfortable commenting online and there can be many reasons for this.

For example, people have told me that they find some Blog pages (especially this one!) and other online forums are filled with great ideas and stories but as soon as you jump on and share an opinion, especially if it is not the same as most others in the forum, either you, or the conversation can be shut down very quickly. While I’d love to encourage people to ask questions, share ideas and seek to learn, for some, this is just not going to happen.

So what can you do if you do like sharing, learning and thinking through ideas but doing so online is not for you? One option of course is the good old-fashioned ‘thinking out loud’, or if you prefer, conversations.

We have previously written about our Thinking Groups that we created to provide the space for ‘in-person’ conversation, sharing, thinking (of course) all with the aim of creating a ‘community of learning’.

We have quite a few Thinking Groups up and running now across Australia including Maitland, Newcastle, Central Coast, Sydney (all in NSW) as well as Brisbane (Queensland) and Melbourne (Victoria).

What we generally finds works best is:

· A good group of people who are keen to think and chat together. They don’t need to be like-minded or work in the same industry, but it does help if people are willing and open to learning and sharing ideas. Thinking Groups are not the place for business networking or promotion, there are plenty of other forums for that.

· A general or loose topic is usually chose to guide the discussion, however we nearly always find ourselves easily distracted and often get off topic, which is great! As long as we are there thinking and sharing ideas and experiences, that’s what counts. One idea could be to pick one of the blogs posted on this page and talk (and think) through it. Just like the online feedback forum, only in person where you can gauge the feedback and response of those you are talking with unlike conversations online.

· A good moderator who feels comfortable and is skilled at open questions and getting discussions going as the group forms is also a useful thing to have.

For those who are interested in joining one of our existing Thinking Groups, or if you would like to set one up of your own, we’ve put together a few resources which might help:



If you’d like to know more about our Thinking Group idea, whether that be join an existing one or create a new one of your own, drop us a line, or if you dare comment below J

Useful contacts are: Max Geyer (Maitland), Gab Carlton (Sydney), James Ellis (Central Coast), Dave Whitefield (Brisbane) and Hayden Collins (Melbourne).


Author: Robert Sams

Phone: +61 424 037 112



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Rob Sams
Rob Sams
Rob is an experienced safety and people professional, having worked in a broad range of industries and work environments, including manufacturing, professional services (building and facilities maintenance), healthcare, transport, automotive, sales and marketing. He is a passionate leader who enjoys supporting people and organizations through periods of change. Rob specializes in making the challenges of risk and safety more understandable in the workplace. He uses his substantial skills and formal training in leadership, social psychology of risk and coaching to help organizations understand how to better manage people, risk and performance. Rob builds relationships and "scaffolds" people development and change so that organizations can achieve the meaningful goals they set for themselves. While Rob has specialist knowledge in systems, his passion is in making systems useable for people and organizations. In many ways, Rob is a translator; he interprets the complex language of processes, regulations and legislation into meaningful and practical tasks. Rob uses his knowledge of social psychology to help people and organizations filter the many pressures they are made anxious about by regulators and various media. He is able to bring the many complexities of systems demands down to earth to a relevant and practical level.

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