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Facilitator Journal | Issue #0021 | October 2, 2001
Can Facilitate Group Process as a Participant
Can you really improve group effectiveness as a mere
many times have you found yourself as a member of a group
that was starving for good leadership and facilitation, but
where you didn't possess the official leadership role? How
many times have you felt helpless in this situation? You may
clearly see the ineffective dynamics going on in the group
but you don't know if you should intervene, or how you would
go about it if you decided it was appropriate. What a
frustrating situation! I've been there and I know you
have too. So what can you do to improve group effectiveness
as a mere follower?
First, it's important to acknowledge your fears about
speaking out. Any number of fears may be present. You may
fear the impact speaking out might have on your job if this
is a work group. You may fear an emotional reaction from the
leader or from other participants. You might simply fear the
appearance of looking stupid. After all, everyone else seems
to be going along with things as they are. Right? So it's
important to recognize and acknowledge any fears you have
around rocking the boat so to speak, and just know that
these fears are natural and OK.
Next, get clear on the positive intent you have for
intervening in the group process. It's important to find an
intention that is for the greater good of the entire group
so that if you do intervene, you do so from a place of
compassion and support for all participants, including
Then, if you decide to intervene with the group, consider
- Timing (where in the meeting you intervene).
- Context with whom do you intervene? The whole group, an
individual in the group, the group leader?)
- Content (what you say to the group).
- Attitude (how you say what you say to the group).
We'll explore this fertile area in more detail in future
issues of the journal. If you have any experience in this
arena that you'd like to share, please email
them to me. Thanks!
remember sitting in weekly staff meetings during my last
stint in Corporate Hell. They seemed to go on forever. There
was so much tension in the air, you could cut it with a
knife. So much unsaid frustration, fear, resentment, and
just plain exhaustion as a result of holding all the tension
inside. I remember occasionally making feeble attempts to
shift the energy but I felt like I was speaking a foreign
language. The leader was very controlling and emotionally
shut down, and we all instinctively felt that sharing our
truth was off limits.
I'm not going to try to impress you here. In my mind I
failed to ever do anything to positively impact the dynamics
of this group. I felt like an "outsider" in that I
was a subcontractor manager working in the prime contractor
organization. There existed a substantial cultural
difference between my home organization and the one in which
I found myself. To be honest, I was scared to death of
rocking the boat. So I just checked out. Later, I did start
to rock the boat in the things I did as a manager and was
soon dismissed. Free from the Corporate Prison (that I never
plan to return to) but feeling that if I was only more
courageous, I could have at least expressed my truth and
felt more integrity within myself. But looking back, the fog
was so thick, I was out of touch with and distrusting of my
So I appeal to you good readers, not as the great wizard
facilitator, but as a humble student seeking new and
creative ways to be an effective group member and catalyst,
in the midst of sometimes stifling atmospheres. Though I
find it fairly easy to intervene as a group member when my
financial well-being isn't at stake, it's another story when
you're risking your livelihood. Please read my invitation
below and help start a dialogue on the subject of freeing
ourselves from the organizational prisons of our own making.
interested in hearing your perspectives on this topic and
how this information might help you in your efforts to
facilitate a group wherein you have been a participant.
me your thoughts, stories, and experiences on this issue.
What are your experiences with group intervention as a
This week, we're asking that you recall experiences you've
had as a member of a group where you either successfully or
unsuccessfully attempted to intervene to improve the
direction of the group. Here are some questions to get you
- What challenges have you had as a group member where
you've felt powerless to affect any change from within?
- What questions have you posed to a group to improve its
- What actions have you take to shift a group as a member?
- What stories would you be willing to share about your
experiences as a bold group participant/leader?
us your input and we'll make all of your
ideas and experiences available to everyone who contributes.
Please email your responses to me at ../contact.php.
Thanks for your help in making the MasterFacilitatorJournal.com
site the best facilitation resource site on the web!
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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
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forward it to your friends.
Thanks for reading!
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