Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0326, January 8, 2007

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This week, I'm excited to introduce you to the new Site Management team, Neerja and Deepak Bhatia from Stamford, Connecticut. Neerja will be handling day to day operations, marketing, and customer service, while her husband Deepak will support the technical underpinnings of the operation. They will be getting up to speed over the next few months and then taking over the full management function when I leave in April for a six-month retreat.

Neerja is a published author, trainer, speaker, and coach with more than 15 years of experience in business development, marketing and organizational facilitation, and training. She delivers training programs on topics such as emotional intelligence, leadership, customer service, situational coaching, change management, and communication. Neerja is known for creating a life altering experience by helping individuals see through the not so obvious, the root cause of problems. Her keen sense of awareness provides clarity and focus for her clients. Her expertise is in providing simplified and experiential approach to problem dissolving.

Deepak is an enterprise-level information technology architect working for Fortune 100 companies. He is experienced in the use of leading technology to develop network topology, implementation plans, and select tools to ensure efficient implementation and high availability of mission-critical resources. He is excited about learning the technical aspects of FacilitatorU and is particularly interested in helping us expand the interactivity of our virtual community.

This week's article, written by Neerja, "How to Facilitate Team Bonding," addresses common challenges leaders face in creating unified teams and how to overcome them. Feel free to welcome Neerja and Deepak by emailing them at

Random Acts of Facilitation. Also note that we're offering our popular Random Acts of Facilitation 5-day teleclass starting January 28th. This is a great class for those just starting out in facilitation and offers great validation and insights for intermediate and advanced facilitators as well. See details at the bottom of this issue.


Steve Davis
Publisher and Founder of

FacilitatorU membership

Click here for detail

This Meeting Sux
Click here for detail

Random Acts of Facilitation

Click here for details

The Point

How to facilitate team bonding
Know and use tools to help deepen relationships between team members.

Group Dynamics Skill

A common challenge leaders face today is creating unified teams. When teams do not work well together, organizations experience lack of consensus, wasted meeting time, mediocre to poor performance and low morale

When the finger is pointed to individual team members, whether it is lack of motivation, skill, knowledge or competence, finding the solution will become evasive. The solution seldom lies in fixing the individual, we can fix broken toaster ovens but individuals are not broken and cannot be fixed. The thinking is broken, not the individual

We can use short term fixes such as rewards, re-assignments or even punishments; however, until our perception shifts from broken thinking to big picture thinking, we can become imprisoned in the status quo. In the face of status quo, blaming and giving up is a lot easier than believing and trusting the team members.

How can we create an environment that focuses on great possibilities and facilitates team bonding? 

The answer lies in fostering human greatness by nurturing, inspiring, encouraging, guiding and believing in each other!


Let us take a look at each aspect separately:

How do we foster nurturing?

O ne particular ritual is ‘circle of appreciation’, where you bring the team together and each individual is showered with the gift of appreciative words from the other team members. Everyone is acknowledged for their successes or attitude, character or quality, etc.; The ‘circle of appreciation’ creates magical nurturing that generates a natural high in the team. When we honor each member, teams collectively aspire for greater vision. 

We have had enormous positive feedback from conducting the ‘circle of appreciation’. Some say that it was better than any team building they have done, while others feel great about themselves and their team members, and yet others open up to individual’s inner capabilities that would have gone unnoticed.

What do we do to create an inspiring environment?

To ‘inspire’ means to breathe in. We breathe in oxygen which is a life giving source for our sustenance. It would be impossible to breathe in a concept of oxygen. Similarly we can only inspire individuals with what is alive and moving and not with concepts and tools. Concepts and tools without real war stories are very much like breathing the concept of oxygen. Inspiration comes from war stories of team members. Inspire the team with what people have made possible. Share possibilities that have come into being! 

Each time the opportunity presents itself; I willingly share personal war stories of crossing the threshold of moving from doubt and fear to faith in myself. When a story is conveyed with conviction it inspires or breathes life into team members. 

How do we build courage?

Courage is built through facing and experiencing the discomfort of fear. We have learnt through cultural conditioning to hide fear or shove it under the rug. However, when we are not able to face the fear, it restricts our greatness. Through modeling the acts of courage, the team is moved to action and a greater vision.

As a facilitator, my fears generate the following voices in my head…’what if I freeze’, ‘what if I am unable to answer a question or clarify a concept to a participant’s satisfaction?’ The mind can go in circles creating stories from past failures to strengthen the fear. The way I build courage is through expanding my capacity to be in the moment by using the discipline of Tai Chi, meditation, and Yoga. The more I build capacity, the less significant the fear becomes. The discipline enhances equanimity in the present moment. Anxiety vanishes and the focus shifts to what is best for the group vs. what I know or don’t know. 

What infrastructure have we designed to guide the team?

In addition to setting rules, roles and procedures, formal and informal relationships such as allies, coaches, mentors, morale boosters, believers and celebrators, also help guide the team.

Remember, we do not need fixing because we are not broken; what we can embrace is inspiration, focus, belief, vision, and our allies can provide this in a safe environment where we can blossom and grow into our full potential. 

Without an infrastructure of great allies and coaches who believe in me, I would not be able to accomplish greater visions.


Just the other day, instead of leaving the usual note for my son with a list of things to be completed, I chose to write a note of appreciation – giving him specific reasons on why he is my hero. The entire focus of the letter was on his great qualities. As I wrote the note, I was moved and teary and you can imagine the impact the letter had on him…

What actions can we take today to appreciate our colleagues and loved ones? When we feel the love and support from our family, we are able to extend that support to our community and then to our work place and eventually to the world at large.

Consistent appreciation from the heart can move mountains. Who can you appreciate today? This week, use these strategies in any difficult situation that arises in your groups or in your life. Please email us your comments.


This Meeting Sux You’ve said it, heard it, thought it, or felt it, perhaps all too often. You may have tried to initiate improvements in meetings but you gave up because it was too much work, or you felt alone in your efforts. Maybe you decided that running meetings is the meeting leader’s responsibility and is not up to you. Or perhaps you were overcome with frustration, and simply unequipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to do anything. Yes, this meeting sux. And, this presents you with an opportunity to transform meetings, and in the process, your group and your life.

But what can you do if you’re not in charge?
This is the first book written to specifically answer this question. This is the first practical guide that contains the knowledge, skills, and action steps that you, as a meeting participant, can use to change meetings for good.

   Quick but effective action steps you can take immediately to change the course of your next meeting, whether you're the designated leader or not!

  Strategies to shift your attitude so that your communication has greater impact.

   Tools you need to become an empowered participant to pave the way for advancing your career.


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

5-day Teleclass
for new facilitators and change agents.

Skills and attitudes for the new facilitator or group member who wants to get their group into serious motion.

25 Actions You Can Take to Empower Any Group

This class will meet for five consecutive weekdays January 28th - February 1st, 2008 to cover 25+ facilitative actions you can take to empower and move groups forward. This course is for beginning facilitators or group members that simply want to know more about facilitation so that they can make the groups they are a part of more effective.

How the 5-Day Format/Training works...
1. You dial into your class every day for 5 days (Mon-Fri) for a 60-minute focused training segment using a conferencing bridge.
2. You work a 25-point checklist during the 5 days (about an hour a day of study and field work) which you complete by Friday afternoon, or sooner if you wish.
3. During the week, you may access the instructor via email for help or situational questions.

5-Day Random Acts of Facilitation Training Agenda...
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during the 5-Day course...

Introduction to the Facilitation and Self Facilitation Skills.

1. Create the Ambience.
2. Share the Dream.
3. Get Facilitation
4. Juggling.
5. Me First.

Relating with compassion and understanding.

6. Be Ignorant.
7. Make Smiles Happen.
8. Hold 'em High.
9. Acknowledge the Elephant.
10. Turn on Your Crap-Detector.

Group Dynamics and Facilitation

11. Build the Container.
12. Build trust.
13. Mine the Unexpected.
14. Evolve Your Team.
15. Honor the Process.
16. Facilitate Full Participation

Organizing and Presenting yourself confidently, professionally, and authentically. 

17. Prepare for Success.
18. Get Real.
19. Make Experiences, Not Speeches
20. Watch the Body Talk.
21. Be your message

Intervening to shift group energy

22. Tame the Tormentors.
23. CareFront.
24. Use the Struggle.
25. Break through barriers.
26. Facilitate from Within.
27. Embrace Facilitation as a Master's Path

Benefits to you of participating from the 5-Day Random Acts of Facilitation Training...
1. Get a great introduction to the concept and practice of facilitation skills if you are contemplating becoming a facilitator, team leader, board member, manager, mediator, etc.
2. Never waste another minute in an ineffective meeting again.
3. Learn how to challenge and empower every group you come in contact with.
4. Learn skills to help groups make quantum leaps in their effectiveness.
5. Be a catalyst for positive change in your community.

Also included with your training...
In addition to the 5-Day training described above, you also receive:
1. Access to the participant-only website (lots of resources, forms, etc.).
2. Access to the RealAudio version of the 5-Day training.
3. F$ree copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value).

Pricing and Dates...
The full cost of training/access is only $99, which includes a free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value). Everything you read about above is included. And, we offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed guarantee. Class meets at 1:00-2:00pm Eastern daily, January 28 - February 1, 2008.
Register by January 4th for only $89!

Please click here and you'll be taken to the teleclass registration page. Register there and you'll see your discount computed and applied as you check out. Immediately upon completion of your registration, you will receive an email with instructions to access the course and free article bank. This course is limited to 20 individuals, first come, first served.

Register by January 11th for only $89!

Self-Guided Versions of the course...

The Real Audio version
comes with all of the self-guided features listed above, together with real audio links you'll receive by mail that you can listen to at your leisure.


Click here to purchase the
Real Audio Version for $79

The Compact Disk (CD) version comes with all of the self-guided features listed above, together with 5 CD's you'll receive by mail that you can listen to anywhere you have access to a CD player.


Click here to purchase the CD Version for $89
plus $4 Shipping and Handling Membership Option

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

About the satisfaction guarantee

If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this package, simply email 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.

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