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How to Handle Conflict and Manage Anger
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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0041| February 19, 2002
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Group Awareness & Management

Hey Mr. Facilitator, This isn't Working! 

Challenges toward the facilitator by group members are valid and need to be attended to immediately.

The Point

One of a facilitator's (particularly a new facilitator's) greatest fears is the possibility that the group will object to what's they're doing or not cooperate with them in some way. 

Challenges may come to you directly as a verbal statement such as: "This process isn't working"..."your style isn't working with our group"..."your interventions are inappropriate"..."you're upsetting group members"...etc.

Challenges may also come indirectly in terms of behaviors such as: Participants are slow to respond to your suggestions, they talk amongst themselves, they are ignoring you, members take over the facilitation role without consent, participants consistently arrive back late from breaks, etc.

Challenges such as these, particularly direct challenges, are not only valid forms of communication from the group, but signs of a mature group that's strong enough to challenge what they feel isn't working. Challenges need to be resolved immediately by restating the challenge back to the group, asking for clarification if needed, and checking with the entire group for consensus. 

If the group concurs that something needs to change, ask them to suggest a process or direction they think is appropriate. If their isn't a strong consensus, you might suggest continuing on the present course to see if things clear up and revisit the issue later in the meeting. If a single participant brought up the issue and doesn't agree to this, then ask them to make a specific request.

Remember that you are only one member of the group and that you require their support and cooperation to help them reach their goals. If something isn't working, it's the entire groups' responsibility to get to the source of the problem. Ultimately though, it may turn out that you're not the right facilitator for this group at this time. This is not necessarily a reflection on your abilities, it just may be that your skills don't fit their needs at this time. Elicit any feedback you can from the group and check to see if you can use it in the future to improve your skills. Acknowledge that you're OK and they're OK and move on. 


If you're in a group and have received any one or several of the challenges listed above, you might intervene with a statement to the effect of:

"There have been several challenges to my facilitation at this meeting. I can only fulfill this role with the group's agreement. Let's have a look at what isn't working for each person."

Make sure to go around the room and get input from every participant. If any of the inputs are unclear, ask that they be restated until you understand them. Have one of the members record the issues then go back over each one providing suggestions yourself or asking for ideas from the group on how to resolve them. If a concern is unspecific, ask that the meeting continue and that the group consider your continuing role as part of the agenda at the end of the meeting, to be facilitated by another member.


Reflect on any challenge you've received as a facilitator. What have you learned from it? Has what you've learned helped you to be a better facilitator? We'd love to hear your perspective on this important subject.  Please email your comments to us.

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Reader Survey 
As a Facilitator, what forms, tools, or questions do you use to evaluate your performance as a facilitator? 

Most facilitators use some type of form, questionnaire, or process to receive feedback from their participants after a meeting. Please share with us what you do. If you use specific forms, please email copies to us to compile in our database.

We appreciate your input on this question that might help other facilitators in setting the foundation and the context for effective work with their clients. Please email us your responses. All those who respond will be sent the entire collection of responses. We may use your responses as a resource for future issues of the journal or for other works.  Thanks so much for your consideration of our request

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About the Author: 
Steve Davis is a Business and Life Coach facilitating others to reach  their full potential in their business and personal lives. Please email your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. Or call me at 800-216-3854. I'd love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. Thanks for reading! 

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How to Handle Conflict and Manage Anger
Wherever You Have Involved, Concerned People, You’ll Have Conflict and Anger, by Denis Waitley
Six Audiocassettes plus a Workbook.
Price: $59.95. 


Life is too complex for anyone to expect to exist in a perennial state of harmony and bliss. The reality is that in the daily push and pull of our lives there are many sources of conflict and anger.

Despite the negative image, however, conflict and anger need not erupt in disaster. They can often be opportunities for developing new skills, furthering personal improvement and
growing toward full potential. But you must take advantage of them.

Because of lifelong beliefs that conflict and anger are “bad” reactions to be avoided or
merely survived, few of us have learned to handle either of them productively or to make the most of the opportunities they provide.

How to Handle Conflict and Manage Anger is based on one of the best-selling seminars developed by the National Seminars Group. In it, Denis Waitley discusses the proposition that it’s not so much what happens in our daily lives that matters, but how we perceive and respond to those events that determines our success or failure.

He examines the effects of continual change in our personal and professional lives. He counsels that anger is a choice we make, not an event that simply happens. And he confronts what he considers the two most important issues in human relations: understanding each other and dealing effectively with our disagreements.

On this journey to increased self-knowledge and greater self-control,
Denis Waitley teaches:

• 5 myths about anger and conflict – and what the truth really is.

• 4 steps that will keep you cool, calm and in control most of the time.

• 5 conflict-escalating words that should be avoided at all costs.

• 5 styles of conflict management: dominator, compromiser, withdrawer,
and collaborator.

• 10 conflict-resolution skills everyone must know.

• 6 tips on handling harassment and hardball tactics.

• 7 negotiating styles.

In a powerful, practical fashion, and employing numerous examples and real-life stories, Denis Waitley explodes the misconceptions and establishes the facts about two of the most misunderstand – and ultimately useful – constants we must face in our lives.

How to Handle Conflict and Manage Anger serves anyone seeking personal and professional growth, revealing the skills essential to taking what life has to offer and incorporating them in the drive to success.

Click Here to Order.

Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on February 26, 2002. 


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