Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0471, December 21, 2010

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Dear Friends,





The continue with the holiday theme, I thought I'd send you something to stimulate your thinking around how you approach setting the ambiance for your gatherings. In the 1960's, Timothy Leary coined the term "set and setting" referring to a context that influenced the outcomes of psychoactive and psychedelic drug experiments on his subjects. "Set" refers to one's mindset, "setting" refers to the environment in which the user has the experience. In this week's article, Set and Setting, we take a look at how these contextual elements play a significant, and often overlooked role, in our work as trainers, facilitators, and group leaders.

Christmas Gift Discount on FacilitatorU Memberships and Independent Study Teleclasses. With Christmas coming quickly, I wanted to extend to you a special gift idea. We're offering a 50% discount on gift memberships at FacilitatorU. Simply purchase the membership and enter this discount code: christmas

When you receive your welcome email, forward it to your friend or relative with your private message. Also forward me their contact information that I'll add to our membership records.

View and purchase our memberships here.
Enter the discount code: christmas

Also, check out our special discount offer on self-guided teleclasses at the end of this issue.

We hope our work continues to bring inspiration to your world. Thank you for being a part of our growing community. Please continue to send the wonderful feedback.

Blessings,

Steve Davis

Founder, FacilitatorU.com



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virtual facilitation


The Point


Set and Setting
Facilitating mind states and environments to impact group work.


Group Process Skill

In the 1960's, Timothy Leary coined the term "set and setting" referring to a context that influenced the outcomes of psychoactive and psychedelic drug experiments on his subjects. "Set" refers to one's mindset, "setting" refers to the environment in which the user has the experience. Now I'm not necessarily suggesting that you administer psychoactive drugs to your participants, though I'm sure that would make your job a whole lot more interesting. What I am suggesting is that "set and setting" play a significant, and often overlooked role, in your work as a trainer, facilitator, or group leader.

The Set

Imagination creates reality... Man is all imagination.
– Neville (1905–1972), visionary and mystic

The set is the mental state a person brings to your group. This includes their thoughts, judgments, beliefs, mood, and expectations about the work, the group, and/or particular group members. According to Neville and many modern thinkers, mystics, physicists, and others, our expectations and intentions about what will happen often has a lot to do with our experience of what does happen.

The Setting

The setting refers to the physical or social environment. We all know the impact that friendly versus unfriendly, or stressful versus relaxed environments have on us. Stress, fear or a disagreeable environment may contribute a great deal to an unpleasant experience (bad trip in Leary's terms). Conversely, a relaxed, curious person in a warm, comfortable and safe place is more likely to have a pleasant experience (or a good trip).

Can we facilitate the mental state of our participants before, during, or after group work? Can we manipulate the physical or social environment to get better results? As facilitators, I say "yes" and "yes," this is a big part of what we do, intentionally or unintentionally. But how?



Application


The Bowl

Several years ago, during a weekend workshop at our local community college with a group of learning disabled students, I thought I'd try something a bit provocative. This was a personal growth workshop aimed at facilitating self-awareness around effective and ineffective behaviors to improve workplace success. I decided to bring in a crystal bowl used to create rich harmonic sounds for meditation and ritual. This particular bowl was tuned to the 3rd chakra, that of "Will." Though I was a bit unsure about trying what might be considered by many to be a little too "woo woo" for a college course, I trusted by intuition and decided to give it a go.

I placed the bowl, of opaque white crystal, measuring ten inches in diameter, in the center of the table in front of the room. After some introductory remarks about the work to follow, I told the group about the bowl. I said something like this, "This is a crystal turning bowl I brought from home that I thought might help us focus and tune in to each other today. This bowl creates a very pleasant sound. The sound it creates is said to resonate with a body center responsible for our will and our action in the world. Since we are all here to clarify and strengthen our ability to act effectively, I think that playing this bowl might help us off to good start. You may find that closing your eyes will be most beneficial and simply let the sound fill you."

I then played the bowl for a minute or so. There was a tangible sense of quiet and stillness in the room. It felt as if we had actually "attuned" ourselves to a common, peaceful mind state. I played the bowl each time we came back from a break and people scrambled to turn off the lights and get down on the floor to enjoy the experience. It was obvious that everyone loved it.

Adjusting the Set

For centuries, shaman have beaten drums, churches have sung hymns, and monks have chanted, all to affect states of consciousness through sound. I share my story as another way sound can be used to shift the mind state of a group. Here are more ideas you can use to align the mind state of groups.

  • Use other forms of sound such as recorded music, chanting, and singing. Groups making or experiencing sound together tend to resonate together in thought and feeling.

  • Ask your group to imagine or visualize the perfect outcome of their work together in great detail. Have them share these creations with each other.

  • Ask your group to let go of any judgments, assumptions, or preconceptions while they engage in the possibility of creating something new together. Let them know that the group's work will be impeded by preconceptions about the "way things are," and that you are not asking them to change their minds, you're simply asking them to "suspend" their judgments, assumptions, or preconceptions temporarily as an experiment.

  • Get a reading from your group, preferably before they show up, as to their expectations about what is to take place and to be accomplished. If the element of surprise is not a necessary feature of the work you're doing, give participants some preview of the work, making adjustments to meet their expectations to enhance their commitment to the work.

  • Ask yourself these questions to help you arrive at additional ways to adjust the "set." Where have your participants come from? What is their likely mindset as a result? What mind state will support the work you're there to do? What can you do to help put them in this state?

Adjusting the Setting

We all know that our physical and social environments can have a dramatic effect on us. We spend a great deal of effort decorating our homes and offices, landscaping our yards, and surrounding ourselves with our favorite people. When it comes to facilitating, training, or leading groups, we are similarly impacted by these environments. Here are a few tips to adjust the setting for your group work.

  • Adjust the seating arrangements to be appropriate to your purpose. Here is a site depicting seating arrangements for various purposes.
    http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/seating.html

  • Make sure everyone is visible to everyone in the room. Also confirm that all participants can see any visuals you're displaying.

  • Consider artifacts such as pictures, decor, scents, colors, and other props that will enhance and support your group purpose. For example, for a group seeking to develop a strategic plan, you might choose to display pictures that inspire creative and expansive thinking.

  • Finally, to come up with further ideas, ask yourself these questions. What do you want your participants to sense when they come into the room? How do you want them to feel about working together? What can you do to the environment to have it reflect these sensations to enhance your work together just a bit more?

Add Your Comments


Action


How can you use the concept of "set" and "setting" to improve your group events and gatherings? I'd love to hear from you. Please click on the Add Your Comments and tell us what this article inspires in you.


This Week's Offer

Christmas Gift Discount on FacilitatorU Memberships and
Self-Guided Teleclasses


With Christmas coming quickly, I wanted to extend to you a special gift idea. We're offering a 50% discount on gift memberships and self-guided teleclasses at FacilitatorU. Simply purchase the membership and enter this discount code: christmas

When you receive your welcome email, forward it to your friend or relative with your private message. Also forward me their contact information that I'll add to our membership records.

View and purchase our memberships here.
Enter the discount code: christmas.

Self-Guided Teleclass 50% Discount. Each package provides a learning guide, several hours of MP3 recorded class hours and bonus support materials. Click on the courses you're interested in below. Click continue shopping for additional items. Enter coupon code christmas. Your discount will be computed at checkout. Offer good until December 25th.

These trainings are also available for posting on your corporate intranet. Please contact us to discuss this option.

Random Acts of Facilitation

This class covers 25 discrete facilitative actions you can take to empower and move groups forward. This course is for facilitators at any level or group members that simply want to know more about facilitation so that they can make the groups they are a part of more effective. Being discrete acts of facilitation, they also lend themselves to being taught to your group members who desire to become more self-facilitative. Purchase the MP3 version, complete with the learning guide, to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule. See details here.

Facilitating at a Distance: The Essentials of Teleclass & Virtual Meeting Facilitation.

This class is for those of you wanting to offer a teleclass but don't feel you have all the skills and knowledge you need to do so, or for managers working with distributed teams that require you to facilitate virtual meetings. See details at the end of this issue. This class will teach you methods, skills, and processes to employ this inexpensive way to train, collaborate, and problem-solve using Teleclasses and Virtual Meetings. Remove the fear and uncertainty of teleclass/virtual meeting design and facilitation. Purchase the MP3 version, complete with the learning guide, to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule. See details here.

conflict resolutionTransforming Conflict in the Workplace

Would you be a more effective facilitator or leader with a more solid base of conflict resolution skills under your belt? All organizations and relationships encounter conflict. It's what we do with it that makes all the difference in the world. In this class you will learn conflict resolution skills for facilitative leaders by exploring and evaluating your own styles and personal responses conflict, learning and practicing conflict resolution strategies in the context of group facilitation, and exploring how you can implement conflict resolution and staff facilitation programs within organizations. Purchase the MP3 version, complete with the learning guide, to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule. See details here.


The Improvisational Facilitator

This highly experiential teleclass presents powerful, practical improv techniques you can use to immediately enhance your facilitation, training, and group leadership skills. This class is very interactive and uses many innovative experiential activities that will surely surprise you. You'll learn ways to become a better facilitator by experimenting with improv techniques, and increase your confidence and creativity to make your plan become more flexible and spontaneous. Purchase the MP3 version, complete with the learning guide, to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule. See details here.

Secrets to Designing Dynamic Workshops from Scratch

This 5-hour teleclass will walk you through the building blocks of designing and delivering effective experiential workshops. It will cover all the elements of workshop design using a simple, well-organized, and proven approach. You'll have the opportunity in this class to complete the design of your own workshop with the help of fellow students and instructors. Purchase the MP3 version, complete with the learning guide, to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule. See details here.


Becoming a Learning Facilitator

Make the shift from teaching to "Learning Facilitation." This course explores how to make the leap from conventional teaching approaches to a new perspective based on the learner and incorporating facilitation skills and philosophy into the learning environment. Purchase the MP3 version, complete with the learning guide, to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule. See details here.

Putting Out Brush Fires... How to intervene in difficult group situations
Do nonstop talkers, silent groups or dramatic conflicts ever knock your meetings off track? These meeting situations take a toll on a group’s ability to work together and cost time and money. This 5-hour teleclass, taught by Dee Kelsey and Pam Plumb, authors of Great Meetings! Great Results, will increase your ability to know when and how to intervene effectively in difficult situations to get your meetings back on track. Each session includes a short content presentation, discussion, demonstration, participant exercise, debrief, and discussion of application. This course if for anyone who facilitates, manages, teaches, mediates, coaches, counsels, directs any group. See details here.

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