A metaphor for facilitation

This blog entry is a bit rude, so please don’t read this if you are easily offended!


Something funny happened to me this morning. I was in a Spinning class at my local gym. For the uninitiated, Spinning is a kind of cycling class, on fixed bikes, to music. Just as an aside, Heston Blumenthal was at the gym too!

Anyway, we were about half way through the class when I noticed an awful smell. Of course, I assumed that someone near to me had farted, BADLY! I didn’t say anything to anyone, just looked around me for likely suspects.

The smell continued to get worse, and I noticed other people around me looking up and pulling faces. It was clear they could smell it too. There was a bloke on a bike in front of me, ‘what has he been eating’, I was thinking to myself.

Eventually the class instructor called out, ‘Can anyone else smell that awful smell?’. At this point everyone admitted they could smell the pong. Once we all acknowledged the problem, we realised the smell was actually coming in through the aircon vent, probably a result of some cleaning work outside. We continued the class without aircon and without pong.

What I found funny about this little event was:

  • no one acknowledged the problem until the instructor called it
  • everyone had been secretly blaming their neighbour


It just reminded me of what can happen in groups when there is a conflict. So often conflict becomes undiscussable, and it needs someone to call it, so that it can be talked about and resolved.

I’m not sure this is a metaphor I will ever use in a meeting, but thought I’d share it. I hope it brings a few smiles 🙂