What is a "Vibes Watcher" and When is Their Role Utilized?


At times when the discussion is expected to be particularly controversial or when there are more people than the Facilitator can be aware and attentive to, it may make more sense to appoint a "vibes watcher"- a person who will pay attention to the emotional climate and energy level of the attenders. Such a person is encouraged to interrupt the proceedings when necessary with an observation of how things are going and to suggest remedies when there is a problem.

As "vibes watcher" you pay most attention to the nonverbal communication, such as:

  1. Body language: are people yawning, dozing, sagging, fidgeting, leaving?
  2. Facial Expressions: are people alert or "not there", looking upset, staring off into space?
  3. Side conversations: are they distracting to the Facilitator or to the group?
  4. People interrupting each other.

It is often difficult to interpret such behavior correctly. Therefore it may be wise to report what you observed and possibly suggest something to do about it. If energy is low a quick game, stretch, or a rousing song may wake people up. If tension or conflict level in preventing people from hearing each other, a simple getting up and finding new places to sit may help. A period of silence might also be helpful when people may have a chance to relax a bot and look for new insights.

It is important for the vibes watcher to keep a light touch- don't make people feel guilty or defensive. Also, be confident in your role- there is no reason for apologizing when you have an observation or a suggestion for the group- you are doing them a favor.


Source: Building Social Change Communities

Contributors: Berit Lakey, The Training/ Action Affinity Group of Movement for a New Society 

Recommended Reading: Building Social Change Communities