Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0315, September 11, 2007

Dear friends,
RSS Subscribe

This issue explores the use of the Socratic Method in facilitation and training. I'd like to thank Norman Patnode, Professor of Program Management & Leadership at the Defense Acquisition University for submitting this article.

Facilitating Egos. Expert Interview with Dr. Eileen Dowse, Certified Master Facilitator, Speaker, Author and Founder of Human Dynamics. Join us for this one-hour interview this Thursday where we'll discuss strategies for effectively facilitating stubborn participants hung up on "their way", participants who simply have to be on center stage, and other common ego challenges. See details after the article below.

Only 3 spots left! The Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration Workshop. FacilitatorU in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin, is offering the "Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration," a live training workshop based on 20 archetypes of the Integral Facilitator in late October. You'll have the opportunity to practice the competencies of self-facilitation, social awareness, and group process required before, during, and after group facilitation events. Click here for full details and complete workshop outline.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher and Founder of

Facilitator Questions Collection
Click here for details

FacilitatorU membership

Click here for detail

eileen dowse

Dr. Eileen Dowse
Facilitating Egos
Sept 13th
Click Here

The Point

The Power of Questions
Using the Socratic Method as a Learning Facilitator.

Intervention Skill

What is the Socratic Method?

The Socratic Method uses questions to guide your student on a journey of discovery leading toward greater understanding or increased performance.

Although facilitation is about moving people to where they want to go, the simple truth is that nobody moves anywhere unless they move themselves. The Socratic Method is a way to help people see when they need to move, and where they need to move to. It produces better learning and better solutions because it leads people to explore, challenge their thinking, and discover answers for themselves. Self-discovery facilitates action because individuals uncover for themselves what needs to be done and why.

How does it work?

There are two elements essential to using the Socratic Method - questions, and knowing where you're going.

1) Not all questions are created equal. There are open, closed, and guiding questions, but it's important to understand that every question is a search for one of three things:

  • An expression of a subjective preference.

  • An objective fact.

  • The best possible alternative or solution.

2) You must know where you're going in order to know what to ask for. As a facilitator you are trying to help someone to get where they want to go. Start there. That's your first question. Ask them where they want to go and why they want to get there. What's their desired outcome or end result? You'll want to keep their answer out in front of you so it can guide you like a beacon as you continue to ask and receive questions.


Once you ask a question - be quiet. Wait. Even if there's a very loooooooooong pause. Allow them time to think and reflect, to form their answer. Don't answer your own question! You don't want to send the message that your questions are rhetorical. If someone is unable to answer your question, back up and break your question into smaller questions. Or you might ask them what their question is - what's got them stuck.

When you're asked a question, think, "What's needed to answer that question"? Then ask yourself, "Which of those things is this person missing"? If it's not obvious, ask. If you know what's needed, then ask yourself, "What question will help move them there?"

Then you're ready to respond to the initial question -- with a question that will help them move forward, towards where they want to go.  Note that moving forward may mean stepping sideways, or even backwards, as you ask questions to help them find what they need to answer their earlier questions. Because you don't know before you start what they'll need, you can't know in advance what path you and they will take as you guide them to where they want to go.

If you're working with a group, be sure not to repeat what someone says, or you'll unwittingly train them not to listen to one another. Instead, ask another participant to repeat what was said if clarity is needed.

If you find your participants speaking only to you, take some time and help them understand the importance of speaking to everyone when they are asking and answering questions. Involving everyone and expanding the discussion helps the group to learn as a team, which dramatically increases their discoveries.

If you're used to preparing a set of charts and presenting them, you may find using the Socratic Method challenging, and perhaps a bit "messy." However, with practice, you'll find the approach both fun and rewarding. After all, when do you learn best? When someone tells you the answer, or when they help you figure it out for yourself?

About the Author.This article was submitted by Norman Patnode, Professor of Program Management & Leadership at he Defense Acquisition University, where he provides training in strategic leadership, critical thinking, teamwork and teambuilding, the application of Myers-Briggs (MBTI), program risk management, coaching and conflict management. He also teaches a number of the basic program management tools.


Take an opportunity to experiment with the Socratic Method with your groups or simply in conversation with individuals you encounter that may be looking for guidance. Reply to this email and let me know what you discover, I'd love to hear from you.


eileen dowse

Facilitating Egos ...

How to get the "know it alls" onboard

Featuring Dr. Eileen Dowse, Certified Master Facilitator, Speaker, Author and Founder of Human Dynamics

"Just in Time" Learning

If you've worked with groups for very long, you've run into the participant who knows it all and just can't follow anyone else's lead. There are effective ways to work with big egos without spoiling the party. Attend this one-hour tele-seminar with Eileen Douse and Steve Davis Thursday, September 13th at 1:00 PM EST (NY Time). Some of the points we'll discuss are...

  • How do you know if there will be egos affecting your facilitation?

  • What role should I take as a facilitator to work with participants who’s destructive ego negatively impacts the group?

  • What do you do when a person with a strong ego attacks someone who is meek and mild?

  • Are there any activities that work well when you have a room with lots of egos?

  • How do you get everyone to talk when the person with the ego is dominating the conversation?

  • How can I prepare an agenda when the client wants something that would be a disaster and they won’t back down or negotiate on alternatives?

  • Is there a specific facilitative style that is better to use when you have a room filled with egos?

  • What’s the deal with egos anyway?  What are these people all about?

  • And, answers to any questions you bring to the teleclass.

Click here to register


Note to Publishers
Would you like to republish this or other articles from the journal? You are f$ree to do so providing you follow these guidelines.

We grow by recommendation only when you find our material of use! If you enjoyed this issue, we'd love it if you'd spread the word. Click here to use our interactive form to tell your friends about MFJ, and as a thank you, you will receive our f$ree Facilitator's Self Assessment.

In the Spotlight

The Facilitator Questions Collection

A question can alter any circumstance.
--Marilee C. Goldberg

One of the greatest tools we have as group workers is "the question." A well-crafted question, dropped at just the right time, can shift the course of action in significant ways. As facilitators, coaches, trainers, and consultants, the act of asking questions places the power and responsibility back into the hands of your client, an important action necessary to counteract the tendency of group participants to look to you for answers. Answers, while useful, are inherently limiting. New answers, in time, take on the burden of the ones they replaced. A state of inquiry opens us to possibilities. The longer we reside in the question, the more we discover. Hence the decision to “live in the question,” offers great reward. As group workers, I believe this to be our challenge and one we are privileged to model for our groups.

This 35-page e-book collection contains 20 sets of questions grouped according to the many themes upon which groups typically focus. Use these lists in preparation for working with a group or use them as catalysts for the development of your own questions. You can put this practical guide to use right away with your groups without hours of study and contemplation.

Table of Contents


Types Of Questions

Six Serving Men: Open-Ended Questions
Bloom's Taxonomy
Five Types of Questions

  • Focusing Questions
  • Questions to Clarify Group Understanding
  • Questions to Facilitate Commitment
  • Questions to Scope a Project
  • Problem-Solving Questions
  • Data Gathering Questions
  • Questions to clarify and focus on the problem
  • Organizational/Process Questions.
  • Decision-Making Questions
  • Questions to Assess Solutions
  • Questions to Stimulate Creative Thinking
  • Planning Questions
  • Questions to Facilitate Change
  • Questions to Evaluate Results
  • Questions To Improve Teamwork
  • Questions to Facilitate Participation
  • Questions to Identify Group Dysfunction
  • Debriefing Questions
  • Metaphor-Making Questions
  • Intervention Questions
  • Debriefing a Traumatic Situation
  • Questions to ask Yourself to Form Better Questions
  • Questions to Improve Your Facilitation Skills

    Cost of this Guide: $29.95


Special Offer: Buy the Facilitator Questions collection above
and the Facilitation Checklists Collection for only $49

Questions and Checklists Collection for $49

Click above to purchase for immediate download

Questions Collection Only for $29

Click above to purchase for immediate download

100% Money-Back Guarantee. If for any reason, you are not satisfied with this product, simply contact us with a request to refund/credit your credit card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. It's our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case. Membership Option

Become a member of and receive access to this collection and a host of other items and benefits at an incredibly discounted price. An exceptional value. Click here for details


©2008. Powered by All Rights Reserved.