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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0016 | August 28, 2001
5,300 subscribers

Group Awareness and Management (GAME) Skill

The Process is Always the Same.

Treat "Problems" as Learning Opportunities

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The Point?

Sometimes the objective of a given session doesn't go as planned. Things can be going just fine when suddenly, the unexpected comes along and threatens the entire process. In our humble experience as facilitators, we've learned to look forward to things "going wrong!" Why? Because, if they are handled well, they can present some of the richest learning or barrier removing opportunities available. In fact, we've come to see these occurrences as gifts, offering us the chance to explore in ways we could never have planned. 

These events may come from either inside or outside of the group. But no matter their source, they give you the chance to see how participants behave in the midst of life happening. And because as human beings, we tend to operate according to patterned responses, how we do anything is how we do everything. Or put another way, "the process is always the same." So these opportunities can be used to make participants aware of behaviors that are either expediting or blocking the results they're after.


Let's say you're facilitating a work group seeking to solve some of their staff problems. The group leader explains that a recurring issue is that few of their members actually show up at their staff meetings, and those that do show up aren't really contributing. 

Very early in the meeting you notice some patterns with the group leader. First, he talks most of the time and seems bent on having an answer for everything. He doesn't check with the group about what they want to work on and consistently changes the group's focus for no obvious reason. The rest of the group clams up when he does this. It's apparent to you that this is a common pattern probably contributing to the problem.

So you decide to use this as an opportunity to check out this pattern. You first get Bob's permission to accept feedback on some of his behaviors that  you're observing. After some inquiry amongst the group, you find that most of the group feels put off and undervalued by Bob's behavior at meetings to the point they don't often want to come or contribute. 

After questioning Bob about his perspective, you find that he never knew how the group really felt and took their silence as an invitation to just talk through the meetings. Here's a chance for you to ask him, "Where else in your life do you operate on poor assumptions without checking them out?

This kind of intervention can cause powerful shifts in participants by getting them to unravel patterns real-time and to reflect on where else this pattern is showing up in their lives. Once you're aware of a disempowering pattern and it's reach in your life, that alone is sometimes all that's required to change it.


The next time you're facilitating or participating in a group, be aware of your own patterns of behavior in the group. After the meeting, clarify the pattern for yourself in writing and ask yourself where else in your life this pattern shows up. Make a decision to either change it or do more of it (depending on what it is). Get help from those you trust to make this shift in your behavior. I'm interested in hearing about your experience. Please email me your thoughts, stories, and experiences on this issue.

Skill Related Resource
How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything : A Workbook
by Cheri Huber
As a working counselor, I am constantly searching for therapeutic tools and this workbook is currently my favorite resource. Even though Huber explains the causes of suffering from the Buddhist perspective, you don't have to be Buddhist to appreciate the theory behind the exercises. In using the exercises, a person may cut and paste, draw, paint, color, or write their responses. By encouraging such creativity in responding, a person can express themselves in a wide variety of media, rather than just the normal verbal medium which dominates counseling. In the book, Huber truly covers many issues including relationships, self-esteem, holidays, emotional health, death and grief, and so much more. I recommend that every therapist in practice would benefit from using this book not only in their work with others, but also in working on their own issues. I return to it time and time again in order to feel centered and focused as a person and professional.

cartoon image of a man releasing creative thoughts

Reader Survey 
What Are YOU Up To?
Thank you to all who responded to last weeks survey question. From your responses, it looks like we have a predominance of people involve in Coaching, Training, Organizations, Leadership, Teaching, and Consulting, in that order.
I'd like to offer more tools on this site and to do so, I'd love to know the answer to this question: What kind of tools, resources, skills, etc. would help you be a more effective facilitator given your current role? 
Please email your responses to me at Thanks!

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Interactive Forum
Creating Dialogue With Our Readers
In an effort to stimulate discussion on facilitation tips, tools, and processes that are relevant to your interests, we'd like to hear from you. Please post your answers to the questions at on our interactive forum to stimulate discussion on these topics, or simply send me your feedback and I'll post it here or at the forum. Here is some recent feedback from one of our readers:

I am a Personal Development Coach that specializes in assisting individuals overcome self-defeating and self-limiting beliefs and behaviors. I am called upon often to speak to colleges, groups, and very recently at the University of New Mexico's annual Women's Conference.  I believe in what I teach because I've been there myself. I have discovered that the secret to my appeal to audiences is in sharing my stories as examples so they get to see the real me. At that moment, they are able to make a heartfelt connection to their own lives and we are all better for it. People don't often remember what you do. People very seldom remember what you say. But people will always, always, remember how you made them feel. --Susan Turnbull, Albuquerque, NM

Please email your questions and input to Thanks. We look forward to hearing from you.

If you know someone who might benefit and enjoy this newsletter, please send this link to a friend.  

About the Author: 
Steve Davis is a Business and Life Coach facilitating others to stretch beyond their full potential in their business and personal lives. Please email your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. I'd love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. Thanks for reading! 

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Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on August 21, 2001. 

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