Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0228, November 1, 2005 | 7,000 Subscribers....

Dear friends,

Resistance to change is a given in most groups we work with. After all, if resistance didn't exist, the change probably would have already happened. As facilitators, we have the opportunity to work with this resistance in positive ways. But this is sometimes a challenge due to our own relationship to resistance and how we manage it. This weeks article, "Honoring the Risk Manager," was authored by my friend Alyce Barry, a Certified Shadow Work Group Facilitator and Coach. Here, she looks at resistance in a positive light, offering a helpful perspective for us to embrace the next time we encounter it in our groups.

Creating Safety and Trust in Your Groups: A Transformative New Approach to Working With Resistance. In this one-hour interview, Alyce Barry and I will discuss a provocative new approach to managing resistance based on her Shadow Work training. Read about the details of this interview after the article below and join us next Thursday, November 10th at 1:00 PM Eastern (NY Time) for this provocative dialogue.

The Improvisational Facilitator Returns

Sue Walden and I will be leading another session of the 5-day teleclass, "The Improvisational Facilitator," the week of November 14th. This class always receives rave reviews. We'll present powerful, practical improv techniques you can use to immediately enhance your facilitation, training, and group leadership skills. This class is very interactive and uses many innovative experiential activities that will surely surprise you.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis


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The Point

Honoring the Risk Manager
Transforming resistance into synergy in your groups

Group Process Skill

"This doesn't feel safe. What are you doing?"

When I hear a comment like that from a participant in one of my groups, I feel it in my stomach. Is the participant saying I can't be trusted? That I'm trying to hurt someone? That I'm "evil?" A group participant can threaten to disrupt my group process -- what I call "busting my container" -- in a variety of ways. Expressing a concern about safety or leadership is only one of them. For me, though, it's one of the hardest issues because of its potential to take me down emotionally, into fear and distrust of myself.

As a Shadow Work group facilitator, however, I see container-busting as a symptom of an underlying personal issue for the participant, stemming from a bad experience in the past.


In other words, a person who's trying to bust my container is doing so for "good" reasons. Let's say a group member named Oona mentions feeling unsafe. This tells me that she's been in a group where there was, in fact, something unsafe for her. In that group, Oona got hurt in some way. That experience left Oona with "radar" for safety issues in a group. If her comment is directed at me as group leader, I have reason to believe she was hurt by a group leader in the past. Perhaps by a teacher, a religious official, a troop leader -- or, since the family is our first experience of a group, by a parent, sibling, or other family member. Perhaps someone criticized Oona in front of others, or embarrassed or humiliated her. Perhaps someone tried to control or manipulate her and left her feeling like prey.

In my group, Oona's radar has caught a whiff of something that resembles that past experience, however faintly. It doesn't mean that anyone besides Oona is necessarily at risk. All it means is that Oona's radar is up.

And it's up for good reasons -- to protect her from getting criticized or humiliated or manipulated again. Because not only would she feel unsafe, but she would most likely feel ashamed about not preventing it from happening again.

Shadow Work has a unique method for working with that inner radar, by viewing it as a part of the self who's like a radar operator. The inner radar operator is the voice of a person's resistance. My generic name for this part of the self is the Risk Manager, but I've heard people call it their Inner Protector, Guardian Angel, even Bullshit Detector.

Whatever its name, our Risk Manager's job is the same: to be vigilant in detecting risks so that you won't get hurt like before. When I'm working with an individual client, I welcome the Risk Manager to the process and honor its role in my client's life. It begins to reveal things about my client's past that I couldn't possibly know otherwise. It becomes a valuable ally who can help me fulfill Job One, which is to create a safe emotional environment. In a sense, my client's Risk Manager becomes my co-facilitator. In fact, I think of my Risk Manager as the part of me that became trained to lead groups. It started by "scoping things out" to protect me, and it resisted any group leader who didn't know what he or she was doing. Naturally, it thought it could do a better job and decided to learn how!

In my teleclass on November 10, I'll be discussing what the Risk Manager means for you in your groups. I've seen five kinds of resistance arise in a group, and I'll be discussing how to handle them by honoring the Risk Manager.

The first kind of resistance to change, and usually the easiest one to deal with, is skepticism about the group's direction ("What's going on here?"). Second is alarmist ("Something big and scary is coming!") which can sabotage a group emotionally. Third is confusion from too many options ("We could do A or B or C or D or E or..."), so that the group can no longer see the forest for the trees.
For me, and I think for most group leaders, the fourth and fifth kinds of resistance are the hardest: criticism of my methods and criticism of me personally. If Oona says to me, "You're doing it wrong," she had a group leader in the past who was, in fact, doing something wrong, and things didn't work out too well. If Oona says to me, "You're not qualified," she had an unqualified group leader in the past. That experience made her feel like prey, and the hurt she felt now wants to hurt me back and make me feel like prey.

But I don't have to feel like prey because I know she's got a good reason for attacking me. In fact, I can feel glad that she's attacking me, because it means her Risk Manager is on guard to keep her safe. What's more, I can disarm her resistance by honoring her Risk Manager without her even being aware of it.

How? First, inside myself, by believing that no matter how disruptive or unpleasant her behavior, she's acting this way for a good reason, and that she's hurting inside. And second, by genuinely honoring her reasons in my response: "I'll bet there's a good reason why you're seeing things that way." In the teleclass, I'll have more to say about this response and suggest some language
for responding to each kind of resistance.

When you learn to honor the Risk Manager, you'll immediately feel the increased safety and trust in your groups. With more safety and trust, group members will take more responsibility. You may even find that learning about your own Risk Manager makes a difference for you personally, because it means you've had good reasons for everything you've done. I'll be offering an optional exercise in which you can step into your own Risk Manager so I can honor it directly. Honoring this part of yourself will make it easier for you to make changes in your own life, and to feel compassion for yourself about painful experiences in your past.


How does your risk manager show up in groups? How would you like to honor him/her differently based on what you might have learned in this article? Please email us, we'd love to hear from you.

Facilitation Expert Series

Creating Safety and Trust in Your Groups: A Transformative New Approach to Working With Resistance. Featuring Alyce Barry, Certified Shadow Work Group Facilitator and Coach. Attend this one-hour tele-seminar with Alyce Barry and Steve Davis on Thursday, November 10th at 1:00 PM Eastern (NY Time).

"Just in Time" Learning

Why do we resist change? Shadow Work Coach Alyce Barry offers a surprising answer: there is a part of the self whose job it is to resist, and it's resisting for good reasons. You can learn to address that part of a person who's resisting and get it working for you rather than against you. Attend this one-hour tele-seminar with Alyce Barry and Steve Davis on Thursday, November 10th at 1:00 PM EST (NY Time) and learn how honoring resistance can help move your group forward. Some of the points we'll discuss are...

Why people resist change.
Why resistance is a good strategy.
How to get resistance working for you instead of against you.
Five kinds of resistance, and how to disarm them.
How to create safety and trust in your groups.
How to empathize with a group member even when they are criticizing or attacking you.
You will also have an opportunity to participate in an optional exercise to view your own resistance as a good strategy.
And, answers to any questions you bring to the teleclass

Three Free Bonuses!

1. Illustrated Shadow Work Model.
2. Article: "Five Kinds of Resistance and How to Disarm Them"
3. Article "Two More Responses to Fear in Your Groups."

This seminar is free to members.
Click here
to view features and benefits of membership.

Click here for details about this interview, the bonuses, and registration.
In the Spotlight

The Improvisational Facilitator

It's easier than you think...your life is already an improv!

Learn improv techniques to become a more effective facilitator, trainer, and group leader

November 14th-18, 2005, 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern (NY Time), 75 minutes each day.

A week after the course I have found myself talking about and actually using the techniques taught! The experiential based learning really worked for me and I learnt whilst having fun – always a good way to retain new learnings. The course has provided me with a toolkit of great techniques to improve my own facilitation, as well as some enjoyable exercises to use with delegates. I have nothing but praise for both Sue and Steve, who walked their talk with their own facilitation skills – they simply flowed through the course with grace and intelligence. The content, the materials and the facilitators is 5 star stuff and I highly recommend it to any facilitator.
--Amanda Alexander, Coach and Founder of

Click here for details and registration

Managing People You Rarely See

5-day Teleclass on the Management and Facilitation of Virtual/Distributed Teams

Unlock the potential of your virtual team as an effective distance manager

The Art of Managing an Outstanding Virtual Team. Managing people from a distance isn’t easy.

Do you need to get rapid results from people collaborating across multiple locations? This class will discuss managing remote relationships and frameworks for successfully managing projects across large distances. There are issues created by the geographic distance between team members. But those issues can be overcome, and in fact, the potential of a distance team to accomplish amazing feats far outweighs any logistical liabilities. Project development teams scattered around the country or around the globe can take advantage of the best scientific minds, technical skills and subject matter experts...if they can manage the remote relationships effectively. This course will build remote management competencies by providing a framework for success and applying it to real-life examples. The course contains consolidated information packed into a one-day format.

Click here for Self-Guided 5-Day Real Audio or CD Version Membership Option

Become a member of premium member and register for this teleclass at half price in addition to a host of other items and benefits. An exceptional value. Click here for details.

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