Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0330, February 5, 2008


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This week's article, Full participation in the Face of Conflict is about building resilience as a personal asset you can rely on when the heat is on.

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The Point

Full Participation in the Face of Conflict
Creating resilience

Self-Facilitation Skill

Conflict does not have the power to defeat us; what brings us down is how we relate to it. When we are in a difficult situation, managing our emotions and beliefs around the conflict is more important than becoming defensive or shoving it under the rug and pretending it will go away.

How effectively we manage conflict depends largely on our inner strength to dismantle it. Where does this inner strength come from?

Strength comes from building our muscle of resilience. Resilience grows when we nurture each and every aspect of our humanity - physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

Allow me to explain the concept of inner strength in a simple way. We gain physical strength by eating healthy, exercising and resting regularly, emotional strength by doing what we love, intellectual strength by gaining knowledge, and spiritual strength by believing in ourselves or a power greater than us. By nurturing each of these four aspects of being human we build inner strength. In other words, we build capacity to become resilient towards conflicts. Resilience energizes us as we stand in the face of conflict.

When we are energized, we are in resonance with greater possibilities. This resonance moves us beyond conflicts as it carries a deep sense of connection, clarity and capacity to make what seems impossible to the mind, possible.

When we are drained, we are in dissonance with possibilities. This dissonance keeps us in status quo as it carries a sense of disconnection and confusion, which makes the possible impossible. Can you think of a time when you felt so drained and disconnected?

How do we create resonance to stay connected with the group even in the face of conflict? Let us take a look at a model for creating resonance.


Model of resonance

The first element is the Vision Star-–we all aspire to be and do something great. We all want to be successful in what we do. The vision star is our higher aspirations. For instance my higher aspiration is helping the group break through limited perceptions. Without being intimate with my vision star, I could lose my sense of focus and become overwhelmed by conflict.

The second element consists of the resonance and dissonance factors. When we focus and attention in the present moment, we resonate with what is at hand and thus we feel empowered. This is how you feel when you are facilitating and everything is flowing effortlessly. However, when our focus and attention is traveling in the mental patterns of the past, we feel dissonance or disconnected and thus we become disempowered. This could mean a disconnection between the facilitator and the audience or the content and the context, and so forth.

The third element is an addictive behavior where the aim is to rescue ourselves from dissonance or disempowerment. We foolishly believe that by doing more, being more showing more we could get rid of the dissonance and return to resonance. In situations when conflict arises, we begin to aggravate the conflict by doing more of what does not work. For instance, there are times in the face of conflict, when we begin to talk more, pace more, or distract ourselves by playing with our pen. When we notice these excessive behaviors, it is a good time to take a short break to regroup.

The fourth element is the natural alarm system that detects the dissonance and sends out an SOS message through the body. However, addictions numb our bodies to the signs of danger and we fall under the spell of denial. Denial projects the problem out there. For instance we might end up thinking along the lines of ‘something must be wrong with the people because I am perfect.’ Running away from reality eventually creates mega stress.

Building resilience provides clarity to move away from denial and return to the present moment with grace. For instance, I was facilitating a program of human excellence for a group of scientists. They were brilliant and some were very adamant that they had tried everything and were not open to any motivational theories as they cannot change or impact people’s behaviors. Telling them bluntly that they cannot change people without first changing their own attitude would have probably backfired. Clearly, the meeting began with resistance and soon turned into a facilitator bashing zone. Conflict was at its high.

I acknowledged the conflict openly while breathing into the dissonance I was feeling so I could dissipate it through the use of my breath. I brought my Vision Star to the forefront of my mind, remembering to help the group break through the limited perception and then I let go of wanting to do more or be more to resolve the conflict. I was listening with intent and believing in each participant’s innate ability to see through the limiting beliefs. And in that moment, I asked a simple question, how many of you are here today because someone believed in your talents or your innate abilities?

A participant raised his hand and spoke of his experience where one of his managers who believed in him, brought the best out in him. Then there was silence and people began to raise their hands as they reflected upon their earlier experiences. Throughout the day we shared stories of possibilities and the group had turned into believers of human greatness. They were ready to go back to work with a new perspective and to make a difference.


Create a compelling vision star for yourself as a facilitator.  What legacy do you want to leave behind? What is your Vision Star?

Take a moment and go back to a time when you felt dissonance. Where in your body did you feel the emotions?  Now, instead of reaching for the cup of coffee to stuff the feeling, breathe deeply and bring the vision star to the forefront of your mind. 

How did you feel?  Continue to practice with smaller conflicts first where it is safe and then before you know it, your resilience muscle would have strengthened to handle any conflict.

Remember, stuffing the conflict by addictive behaviors will take you down south to the land of stress and remembering your reason for being will energize you, creating resonance that connects you to the group. 

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