Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0341, May 06, 2008
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We will be launching a new profile page for the ‘Facilitator of the Month’. The objective is to learn and be inspired by interviewing facilitators who make a difference. Our focus will be on real life stories that provide our community with ideas and courage to lead groups. If you know some one who is your ideal facilitator and would be open to sharing their story, please forward their name and contact information and we will get in touch with them soon. Judith Nutkis, a new volunteer member of FacilitatorU, will be leading this project. As a bench scientist at various organizations, Judith Nutkis developed and honed her facilitation skills in idea generation, consensus building and decision-making. At Monsanto, she co-created, developed and coordinated a school outreach program for which she received a site recognition award.

We also want to thank all the members who have been writing back and sharing their perspectives on the articles. Your feedback is invaluable, as it provides ideas and material for additional articles, so please keep them coming!

This week's article, Reframing, was inspired by a participant in a workgroup whose opposing point of view brought the synergy of the group to a wonderful place. Please send your valued thoughts and comments.

Keep your wonderful feedback coming as it is much appreciated and valued. Look forward to seeing you next Tuesday.

Thank you for being a part of this growing community.


Site Manager,

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The Point

When all else fails, reframing is a great option

Intervention Skill

While facilitating a group last week, I encountered a participant we will call Chris who would not buy into anything we discussed. It became clear that Chris was not there to learn or share but to stand his ground. The group was interested in learning how to manage emotions in the workplace and Chris was adamant that this was going to be a waste of time. Within the first hour of the meeting, Chris conveyed remarks that projected a sense of close-mindedness, resistance and to some degree resentment. My only choice was to be present and continue to juggle both the soft and hard balls that were being thrown my way. As facilitators, when we experience conflict, it is easy to forget that the conflicting energy in the group when managed well is a great source of transformation for both the facilitator and the group.


How does one reframe and regroup when the hard balls slam against the face a few times? If the hard ball hits your face, know that the bully in the room has made his way under your skin. After the fourth push back from Chris, it would have been easier for me to snarl back, however I tapped into my life-saving deep breath to stay present and safely managed to stay far away from any unwanted knee jerk reactions. After all, this was an emotional intelligence course and this was perhaps a great opportunity to model the behavior I was facilitating. I coached myself into reframing the perception I was holding of him. The problem was not his behavior but how the behavior was beginning to create a tension in me.

Instead of seeing Chris as an interruption, I began to open up to his comments and even went as far as asking for specific feedback from him. The resistance in me started to dissipate and I began to appreciate his presence. As human beings, at the end of the day, all we want is to be recognized for our work. Deep down, Chris and I are no different, I thought to myself. As I became more comfortable with Chris, the push backs started to turn into light jokes, then into constructive dialogues and then into laughter and smiles, finally bringing the group closer together. Not only was Chris adding value to the group, he was beginning to lead activities and was actually having fun.

At the end of the two days when everyone was sharing their biggest take-aways, Chris came forward and said that he was a plant, testing the grounds to see if emotional intelligence is for real. We all laughed out loud. Whether Chris was a plant or not, I will never know. I do know that reframing created a new relationship between Chris and me and thus the group. Ignoring Chris would have not honored the group to its entirety. Including Chris created a win/win for the greater good. The alternative was to reach the majority and ignore the minority. Unattended ill feelings could have crept through the group, leaving some members dissatisfied. Accepting and confronting all aspects that show up in the group generates the power to transform negativity into creative energy.


What is your first reaction to the face of conflict in a group? Think of the last time you were facilitating and a conflicting situation arose? What good came out of the experience? What did you learn? How has that experience added to your knowledge base? Conflict is inevitable, the practice of embracing conflict and reframing the perception of conflict is where the breakthrough becomes possible. Are you willing and able to staying open to the reactions in the face of conflict?

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