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How to Handle
Conflict and Manage Anger
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Awareness & Management
Mr. Facilitator, This isn't Working!
Challenges toward the facilitator by
group members are valid and need to be attended to immediately.
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
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
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
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
"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
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.
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.
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