December Retreat Reflection: Effective Communication and Responsibility

During the second retreat of What’s the Story? I learned a lot about effective communication, open-mindedness, engaging an audience through different film techniques, and the impact of positive feedback. On the first day of the retreat we read Laura Delizonna’s article High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety. Here’s how to create it. While reading her article we were told to underline quotes and ideas that spoke to us. As soon as I started reading I saw a quote that spoke to me. In the very first sentence of the article Paul Santagata, Head of Industry at Google, said “There’s no team without trust.” I thought this was an important quote because we had just spoken about how without psychological safety team members wouldn’t feel safe and willing to take risks and make themselves vulnerable. In other words, for a team to really work everyone had to support each other and create a safe environment for everyone to share their ideas, take risks, and overall just be able to work together to create an amazing documentary by the end of the year.

Coming to this retreat, I was hesitant about the group that had been formed during the previous retreat. I was unsure about my group for lots of reasons, but mainly because our team’s communication was lacking and I felt disconnected from the group. But as the weekend continued our team discussed how to better communicate and we came up for a new plan as well as creating a to-do list with jobs assigned to everyone. By doing this we instantly changed the environment of our team to one of support, organization, and effective communication. Within two days of addressing what our team needed to work on and really focusing on positive change and growth I already felt more confident with our team’s ability to create an inspiring and powerful documentary; and I’m so excited to dig deep into our topic and start exploring. My team is filled with such passionate, excited, engaged students that are so pumped about our topic. It’s great when everyone is so excited because their energy fills the room and gets everybody working hard and focusing which I was nervous about early Saturday morning.  

Another thing that helped me in m y learning growth this weekend was watching Jonathan Haidt’s TED Talk, “The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives.” This helped me change my mindset and promote learning growth because during his talk Haidt had lots of interesting ideas and points that I had never thought of before. Listening to it taught me many new things – one of the main ones being how people’s open-mindedness can contribute them being either left-winged or right-winged. I thought that was really interesting because I thought that was just determined by people’s upbringing, beliefs and experiences, not how open-minded they were. 

Next month I’m excited about what new things I’ll be learning from the mentors of What’s the Story as well as seeing what my team has to offer. I think that in a month I’ll have learned how to better use the film technology as well as possibly even gotten an interview in. I think my role in the group will be helping with research, creating a poster advertising our topic to potential interviewees, and helping create interview questions as well as interview – if we’ve started interviewing.  I’m so glad our group addressed our communication problem because now I feel like myself as well as other members of the team can be held more responsible.


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