Facilitator Journal | Issue #0269, September 12, 2006 ....
On a recent day trip to Santa Cruz Island off the California coast, some
insights came to me around silence and receptivity that relate to
facilitation. In this week's article, Are
You Facilitating Mass Hypnosis? I
offer these insights and some questions to ponder around what we
often do that gets in the way of group progress and independence.
I look forward to your thoughts as always.
5-day Teleclass: Transforming Conflict in the Workplace. Remove
the fear and uncertainty in working with conflict in groups and
organizations in this 5-day teleclass series led by a 25-year expert
in the fields of facilitation and mediation, Harry Webne-Behrman.
See details after the article.
The Facilitation Debates
Help us stir the proverbial pot. Check out the question
of the week after the main article and send us your thoughts on
it to stimulate debate and round out our perspectives on key topics.
Facilitation R&D Teleconference
For the past three years, I've been thinking about how
to map the art and science of facilitation into Ken Wilber's Integral
Model. Recently, I've begun moving forward in my efforts to formulate
this model and perhaps glean some new insights from it about achieving
results in groups. You're invited to a roundtable teleconference
on this model on September 18th cohosted by colleagues at the Integral
Learning Community (ILC) at the University of Wisconsin. Click
here for details.
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You Facilitating Mass Hypnosis?
Most of the time, it's best to facilitate with a light touch.
A few days ago my partner and I accompanied our close friends on a day trip
to Santa Cruz Island, about 30 miles off the California coast east of
Ventura. Upon arriving at the island, we were greeted by a park volunteer
who gave us a short briefing on the facilities and also offered to guide
us on a short one-hour hike. We decided that the hike sounded like a good
idea so we joined in.
About 10 minutes into the hike, we realized that this guide (as most every
guide I've experienced) was talking nonstop about the superficialities of
the island. He was in essence, giving us data. We quickly decided to abandon
the guided tour to head out for a quiet hike on our own down an alternate
Reflecting upon this experience on that hike, I came up with some questions.
Why do guides feel compelled, and likely trained to cram superficial data
into us in a place where many of us come to enjoy the now rare peace, quiet,
and solitude of a natural setting?
Is this guide and others unwitting participants part of a ploy to keep us
out of touch with ourselves through their nonstop barrage of superficial
information? Why can't some guides facilitate our "experiencing"
the unique "feeling" of the environment? Or tell us stories that
involve what is "felt" like to live on the island a hundred years
As usual, I converted these reflections into some related questions and
insights for us facilitators to ponder.
- Do you feel that you need to talk "nonstop" when facilitating
a group or when giving a presentation? Music without spaces between
the notes sounds like noise. Presentations without pauses begin to sounds
the same way. People tune out when they aren't "touched" by
the speaker. Listen to your audience while you speak to sense their receptivity.
- Do you think that you need to be facilitating/leading all the time?
If at times you find your group capable of facilitating themselves, then
by all means, get out of their way! Remember that your role is to serve
your group and to help them work together with as light a touch as needed.
Encouraging them to do as much as possible without your intervention increases
their ownership of what's accomplished and builds their skills in self-facilitating.
- Do you go into your groups too attached to an agenda to address your
client's agenda? It's great to have done your homework so that you
are clear about your group's issues and the best way to go about working
through them. But the fact is, until you sit down with the group, you
don't know all that needs to be known. Furthermore, things change moment
to moment. Be ready to toss your prepared agenda to the wind in service
to what's showing up in the group to serve their desired goals.
- Do you secretely want your groups to see things your way? It's
OK to be honest here. It's hard not to want others to adopt the perspectives
that we take to be true. In fact, it's often part of our task to help
others reach consensus which is in a sense, agreement on perspectives.
There's nothing wrong with this. Just notice when you feel an inner tug
for someone to "get it." It may be right for them to "get"
something different, at least at this particular moment.
- Do you only see value in what you do or say? What you say and
do as a facilitator certainly has value. But that's not the only value
you bring. There's value in your authentic presence as well. Your silence,
your intent, your transparency, and your attitude are all tangible contributions
to your group. Let all things that flow from you come from the place of
knowing that your authentic presence is enough.
these insights spoken to you today? What do you plan to do or not do as
a result? I look forward to hearing your perspectives. Please click reply
and email your comments to me.
Debate this one
A big "thank you" to the following people who responded
to last week's question which was:
What are some ways you've seen facilitation impede the progress of
I've included their comments below...
Gilbert Brenson-Lazan: It could be said that facilitation that impedes
the progress of groups is not group facilitation, but I´ll leave
the Byzantine Polemics to others and just relate the principle behaviors
of facilitators and facilitation students that I have observed and that,
in my opinion, impede group progress:
A higher priority given to meticulously stay within the framework or
content of an agenda, than to be sensitive to and address the felt needs
of the participants.
2) Obsessive avoidance of content intervention even when the experience
of the facilitator contains best practices that could help the group.
3) "Facipulation": the "facilitator" manipulates
the group to achieve a specific goal not agreed upon with the group.
4) When the "facilitator" is promoting the hidden agenda of
certain stakeholders and not that agreed upon with the group.
5) When the facilitator has a conscious or unconscious need to "shine"
or impress others.
6) The excessive use of silence.
7) Belaboring the processing of an exercise without relating it to the
reality experienced in the participants´ day to day work.
From Dennis Boyer:
1. Too much emphasis on closure were ambiguity might be healthy.
2. Allowing consensus to narrow ideas where broadening might be helpful.
Stopping a discussion before it reaches the "tipping point"
or "critical mass"
From Mitch Morrison:
The facilitator who allows the participants to highjack the group, and
fails to stay on track.
question do you want answered? Please click reply and let us know if
there's a question your stewing on that you'd like to open up to our
readership. Those questions that garner adequate response will be converted
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Conflict in the Workplace...
you be a more effective facilitator or leader
with a more solid base of conflict resolution
skills under your belt?
organizations and relationships encounter conflict.
It's what we do with it that makes all the difference
in the world.
the fear and uncertainty in working with conflict
in groups and organizations in this 5-day teleclass
series: Transforming Conflict in the Workplace,
led by a 25-year expert in the fields of facilitation
and mediation, Harry Webne-Behrman.
Did you know that everyone has a unique style
and response to conflict? Knowing
your styles and response is critical to effective
o Do you feel comfortable modeling effective conflict
resolution skills as a facilitator? This
is one of the best ways to prevent conflict from
o Did you know that 80% of effective conflict
management consists of effective interpersonal
communication? Knowing how
to facilitate this kind of communication is key
to mining the positive energy of conflict.
Do you know what it takes to establish conflict
resolution and staff facilitation programs within
organizations? This knowledge
is in growing demand for facilitators, coaches,
this class you will learn conflict resolution
skills for facilitative leaders by exploring and
evaluating your own styles and personal responses
conflict, learning and practicing conflict resolution
strategies in the context of group facilitation,
and exploring how you can implement conflict resolution
and staff facilitation programs within organizations.
the end of the 5 days, you will:
your own conflict resolution style and
response to conflict.
able to employ effective conflict resolution
strategies with any group.
how to deal with impasse in groups.
able to recognize others conflict styles
more confidence in dealing with conflict in
groups and organizations.
the keys to implementing conflict resolution
and staff facilitation programs within organizations.
the 5-Day Format/Training works...
1. Listen to MP3 recordings of five 60-minute teleclasses.
2. Work through a workbook during the 5
days which will step you through key conflict
resolution skills and strategies.
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during
the 5-Day course...
of a Comprehensive Conflict Resolution Program
The nine keys to designing and implementing an
integrated conflict resolution program in your
- Core strategies for facilitating effective responses
to conflict so that all staff are invested in
and Strategies * The Heart of Conflict
- The three primary communication styles and their
conflict style counterparts.
- Four key communication skills you need to effectively
- How to model these skills at critical points
of conflict within groups.
to Understand and Manage Defensive Behaviors
- Two key strategies to managing your own defensive
responses to conflicts that arise.
- Four ways to encourage assertive communication
among group members to prevent conflict from escalating.
- Three keys to working with disagreement that
will prevent conflict from occurring.
- A six step model to assure the success of any
- 10 Strategies for Managing Impasse.
- 8 Special Considerations for Managing Multi-Party
- Five types of power essential to identify to
facilitate conflict management.
Synthesis * Designing
Staff Facilitation/ Mediation Systems to Transform
Conflict in the Workplace
- Building the foundation of a staff facilitation
- Keys to the design and implementation a collaborative
dispute settlement system.
- Key steps to starting your conflict mediation
program or reviving a failed one.
- Individual Coaching and Q&A
here for full details and registration