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Groups will get stuck
now and then. When this happens, know how to move them in
As facilitators, at one time or
another, we will run into a situation where our groups get stuck
dead in their tracks. By getting stuck, I mean that the group's
progress seems to have slowed down or stopped, energy is low,
participation is spotty, and you get a hunch that the current
course you are on is not going to get the group moving again.
Groups get stuck for a variety of reasons. Being stuck may be a
symptom of conscious or unconscious resistance to moving forward
by one or more group members, fear of potential consequences
resulting from what might be uncovered by moving in the current
direction, unspoken judgments or irritation among participants,
or simple mental or emotional exhaustion of group members.
When you feel your group is stuck, it may be appropriate to
shake things up by changing the process. Changes to the process
can range from the simple act of taking a physical break to
initiating a "clearing session" to move whatever
energy is impeding forward progress. In the book, "The Art
of Facilitation," several types of clearing processes are
described that we have summarized below.
One-on-One Clearing: Use this
process if it appears that only a few participants require
completion. With this process, you could ask members to take a
15 min. break and invite anyone that has an unspoken issue with
any other member, to express it in the following manner.
Approach the person and express your positive commitment to the
relationship, then describe the feeling or behavior you
experience with them together with a specific incident if
possible. Take turns speaking until all upset is cleared. Make
any requests or promises along the way as desired. Ask for help
from facilitators if needed.
Group Clearing. If it appears the whole group could
benefit from a clearing, offer to do a group clearing session.
First have someone express the purpose or vision of the group,
then invite each participant to express what is getting in their
way to full engagement in the group process. You could have them
complete a stem sentence like, "What is getting in the
way for me is..."
Clearing Yourself. If you feel a need to clear yourself
as the facilitator, do the following. During a break, find an
uninvolved participant and have them ask you the following
question, "What do you need to say or do to get clear?"
Ask this question of yourself if it's inappropriate to use a
Getting Fully Present. Invite participants to share
anything that will help them get more fully present with the
group. This might be personal stuff they're hanging on to that
if expressed will let them more fully engage. Give each member a
time limit of 2-5 minutes.
week, practice one of the above clearing exercises with your
group, or practice "Clearing Yourself" as needed
throughout the week when you're feeling stuck or stressed. We'd love to hear about your
experiences. Please email
your comments to us.
Why do Groups Polarize?
This week, we're asking you explore with us the reasons that
groups tend to polarize over issues. Please consider the
following questions and respond with any ideas or perspectives
you have on this issue.
Why do groups, whether they're political, religious,
corporate, governmental, etc. tend to polarize, taking up
opposite sides of an issue and then arguing over it? If
individuals have differences in groups, why do they almost
always create only two sides? Why not three, four, or five
different sides? Why do they often put more energy into fighting
over differences instead of discovering commonality
us your input and we'll send the entire
collection to everyone who contributes.