10 benefits you’re missing by not circling up at work

Looks like elementary school teachers have been on to something all along: Sitting in a circle is the best way to encourage sharing, even among grown-ups in the professional world.

Circles are a growing trend in the business community because these types of meetings give all participants a chance to be seen and heard, for each to share their perspective and hear from others.  

Perhaps this is why a whopping 85 percent of people who have participated in a circle-shaped meeting say it’s had a positive impact in their lives.

The following are just some of the benefits participants in a circle can expect to reap. Perhaps after you read, you’ll agree: It’s time for you and your team to ‘circle up.’


1. Circles are an accelerator of emotional Intelligence.

Because of the sheer nature of their setup, circles force members to physically be there for each other, more so than a traditional arrangement.

The circular setup activates two fundamental human needs—the need to belong and the need to be unique. Because these needs are automatically met from the get-go, participants can expect a greater, more meaningful emotional experience for themselves and the rest of the group.


2. They help employees bond quickly.

Circles encourage collaboration and connection among participants, new research from two Canadian business school professors shows.  This, of course, brings teams together and even encourages future success, even outside the realm of the circle.

3. Circles foster cooperation rather than division.

Research has shown when people sit in a circle, they’re more apt to cooperate, since these arrangements encourage an attitude of support and togetherness.

On the other hand, typical corporate arrangements like rows or a rectangular boardroom table lend themselves toward more of a “look out for number one” approach, and participants are more likely to become independent and cutthroat.

“The round table approach may work to foster collaboration for corporate boards, at workplace meetings or at restaurants,” writes Vickie Elmer. “By contrast, those who sit in an angular arrangement–think Donald Trump’s The Apprentice–display more maverick, self-centered attitudes.”

4. Circles create safe spaces for feedback and development.

Whether it’s checking in on helpful behaviors throughout your workplace or identifying pressure points or potential problem areas, circles can provide the perfect backdrop for open and honest communication.


5. They quickly get to the ‘meat’ of what really matters to employees.

Because this setup fosters trust and meets basic needs from the jump, participants are more likely to ‘go there’ during this type of meeting.

Plus, circling works soft skills and sensitivities–like empathy and listening skills– that make the difference when it comes to your relationships, goals and deepest aspirations.


6. Circles expand participants’ perspective.

The conversations that arise in these types of meetings tend to be more honest and open. Therefore, the truths that emerge can usually be applied to a larger arena, benefitting your workplace, of course, but also your larger community.

7. They help employees feel seen.

Most people can identify with the profound connection that can take place with strangers within just a few minutes of eye contact.

In fact, circling is almost visceral, and your first experience with it might make you feel a little uncomfortable because you’ll quickly realize: everyone. can. see. you.

But that discomfort is actually the circle’s greatest strength: If colleagues can see one another, they’re one giant step closer to understanding and recognizing each other.

8. … and heard.

In a similar vein, circles allow each member the opportunity to share and air their thoughts without being interrupted or ignored.

9. They can address conflict in healthy and productive ways.

Circle advocates often see exploration of conflict in circle as exploring polarity–a practice of entering the space that holds seemingly-unresolvable opposing positions.

Instead, circling can start the process of synthesis. Perhaps polar personalities or positions will begin to see dynamic links between themselves–or at least recognize how to allow polarities to co-exist together to allow for the fullness and richness of our humanity to be celebrated and integrated. While it can feel a little like walking on hind legs, this embracing of challenge and conflict helps teams and groups to flourish.

10. Circles build trust and healing.

Circles are all about interconnectedness. In fact, the depth of connection and insight these groups allow can open up parts of ourselves that have gone untouched and unmet for decades. This reason, along with countless others, is why so many people have found this kind of space very healing and empowering.


Circles help employees become more emotionally intelligent and interconnected. / Competitive Solutions

In the rushed, multi-tasking, distracted environment of modern business, circle-based meetings offer a chance to sit down and slow down in a space designed for communication and focus.


And the more you circle, the more benefits you and the rest of your participants will see.


Curious to participate in a circle group or see one in action?

A unique opportunity awaits for those in the Baltimore area: Graymake Consulting‘s Community Circle Program, led by organizational effectiveness expert Anne Hilb.

The Community Circle Program is a unique opportunity that allows people on similar life paths the opportunity to connect, share wisdom, network and grow together once a month for six months.

Expect: a kick off event and a closing event [both on Sundays] and then SIX Thursday evening events comprised of dinner and dialogue. You will learn all about how to enhance your organization and yourself, as well as have the opportunity to network with others.

* Click the posters below to RSVP! *

Entrepreneurs  Non Profit Leaders Final (1)

Corporate Leaders Final (1)  Women on the Rise

Questions or comments about the Community Circle Program or about circling up in general? Anne Hilb would love to engage with you. Shoot her an email at ahilb@graymake.com.

Who is Anne Hilb?

Anne Hilb (She, Her, Hers) is an expert in conflict and connection. As an organization development consultant, trainer and facilitator she is deeply passionate about inclusion, opening space for difficult conversations, and learning more about groups and individuals.

Anne believes that to know oneself is to be most effective; that people support what they help create and that there is nothing so practical as a good theory. She brings these beliefs to her consulting work where her goal is to always to balance relationship-building and problem-solving in order to reach a concrete plan and achieve forward movement.

Running towards conversations other often steer clear of, Anne offers candid observations, her quick wit and genuine curiosity to all looking for a partner in their work.



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