Facilitator’s Corner: How Superpowered Introductions Dismantle Problematic Power Dynamics

Facilitator’s Corner: How Superpowered Introductions Dismantle Problematic Power Dynamics

May 18, 2021

By: Darrie Burrage

We often open meetings and events with a welcome or warm-up exercise, providing participants the opportunity to introduce themselves before addressing the topic at hand. Without careful planning, there may be a risk that introductions that focus solely on titles, roles, degrees, years of experience, professional affiliations, and so on, can set up a power dynamic that may result in some attendees feeling less willing to contribute during the meeting. 

Here’s just one example of an alternative approach to facilitating introductions that carries a greater human-first impact: a focus on superpowers.  

We often think of superpowers in a comic-book fashion: the ability to fly, wield mega strength, become invisible, or have laser-beaming eyes. Instead of focusing on something dramatically fictitious (though fun!), try explaining superpowers as a characteristic of our backgrounds, identities, talents, or reframed insecurities that influences how we engage with our work 

Superpowers, from this view, are a tactic to expose others to what we define as meaningful about ourselves apart from our professional-related statuses. You would be surprised how [super]powerful it can be to reimagine the conventional elements of our everyday lives as superpowers  being parents, growing up in rural environments, our struggles, and our needs, among many other things about us that often go undiscussed with colleagues and collaborators.  

Sharing our powers allows us to connect and respond to one another with a dazzling, empathic “yeah, me too.” – a reaction you won’t get if you say your title because you most likely are the only one in the space who has that title. Ask participants to share their self-identified superpower along with their name. Using this facilitation strategy can energize your group with a quick-yet-profound reflection and can have everyone feeling like a superhero in their own life story.