Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0474, January 18, 2010

RSS Subscribe
View Steve Davis's profile on LinkedIn
facilitatoru blog
Dear Friends,

This week we explore Facilitation Aikido: Part II, extracted from Barry Shapiro's book, Casting Call in the Theatre of Corporate America…the role of the extraordinary facilitator. Barry's Facilitation Aikido model offers simple laser strategies for intervening on the five most challenging behaviors we typically encounter in groups. He takes a fresh perspective that views energy dynamics and environments as the source of these behaviors. This week we learn effective ways to intervene on Lemon Face
to transform their sour attitudes into attributes for our groups.

The Facilitator's Studio. I'm again working with Barry and friends to deliver a dynamic new three-day facilitator certification workshop based on his new book. We're delivering our second run of this workshop near the end of next month in Denver, Colorado that includes the practice of Facilitation Aikido and many other tools and practices that inform an extraordinary facilitator. Please see complete details here and consider attending and/or sharing this among your friends and colleagues. MFJ subscribers will receive a 10% discount.

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.


Steve Davis


learning facilitator

The Point

Facilitation Aikido: Part II
Look and listen to Lemonface.

Intervention Skill

Case Study #2: Lemon Face

The second of the participant obstacles you’ll likely encounter, for which Facilitation Aikido can be helpful, is the other side of a Mr. or Ms. Puckers. Whereas Puckers kisses up, this next participant type is scowling…as if recoiling from sucking on a lemon. Naturally, we call this “Lemon Face.” Everything you say is offensive to Lemon Face. Everything the other participants offer is objectionable. Lemon Faces can barely believe their eyes and ears and they will show you their disdain through their ever-present grimace.

Internally, Lemon Face reactions mirror one of three possibilities:

1. A simple lack of understanding of the course material from a lack of clarity on the part of the presenter.

2. Possible style disconnect with which the content is being delivered. Doug is serious-minded, while Amy is lighthearted.

3. A significant difference in values between their internal belief system and any assumptions the presenter makes when delivering the material.

Warning! Some people have permanent, unconscious negative expressions on their face that may look like and be interpreted as disapproval. Often it is not a Lemon Face grimace at all, but simply a look of concentration that is misinterpreted.

In any case, you can determine the Lemon Face trigger by getting a read during a brief one- on-one conversation during a breakout session or even during the main session. Such interventions are very purposeful and underscore the importance of separating the participant from the herd. You are more likely to get honesty and higher personal accountability from a participant once back in the larger group.


Look and Listen to Lemonface

Many times what is needed here is to simply understand what is causing the Lemon Face grimace. The mnemonic device used to assist in such an understanding here involves three L’s—LOOK and LISTEN to LEMONFACE. Look for emotions that wash over their faces when they become impassioned or upset. Watch for any body language they exhibit in response to other’s statements. Listen for specific words and phrases they use to describe their thoughts. Then, adjust your message-on their terms.

There are three ways in which to do adjust your message.

1. Clarify your words. You’d be surprised by how much restating your message by using different words can help.

2. Adjust your approach. A more challenging approach may require you to adjust your delivery approach to be in line with the participant’s style of integrating information. This may mean using more analogies and visual examples for verbal-oriented participants or using more concrete and analytical data for detail-oriented participants.

3. Find common themes. The most difficult approach may require you to bridge the gap between your values and your Lemon Faced participant’s beliefs. That is, find common themes and threads that transcend the program content. For example, both of you might value a strong work ethic. You can see this bridge even in divisive politics. Republicans and Democrats differ on many platforms. However, they both value children. Amy and Doug differed on many platforms but both, it turns out, value physical health and competition. Amy rides horses on her family’s farm and Doug punches a heavy bag in his condo’s basement gym.

I work with many Lemon Faces within a large business supply company culture. They are very hard-driving employees at work and, as such, they often strike oppositional stances in the learning room. This posturing can occur with any given individual in any type of business, of course. In our Tax Accountants session, I noticed one audience member, Jeffrey, with closed body posture and blunted emotion repeating the phrase, “Yeah, but…” in response to statements made in class. I used a three-pronged inquiry to redirect his energy. I asked a series of open-ended questions so I could elicit responses that would reveal ideas for making lemonade. The first question involves investigating.

BARRY: What part of the program doesn’t fit for you?

JEFFREY (self-regulating): Well, it’s not really the whole course that doesn’t fit. It’s just the premise you are making about our group’s behavior. You are implying that we are fear-driven and I don’t believe that this is entirely true.

BARRY: Okay, maybe you are not.

NARRATOR: The second question involves opening up to alternate viewpoints.

BARRY: How do you see it differently?

JEFFREY (his tone softening): I see us as more achievement driven. In that way we may appear reactive and nervous because we are trying to capitalize on every opportunity to reduce errors during audits. It may look like fear, but it is really our hypervigilence in solving accuracy problems.

NARRATOR: As Jeffrey was allowed to express his beliefs, he began to feel understood and validated and his energy was redirected toward productive dialogue. He was encouraged to use his own words (“It may look like fear, but it is really our hypervigilence in solving accuracy problems.”) and demeanor to solve the problem he identified. Namely, inaccurate perceptions exist about him and the groups. Therefore, the third question involves helping Jeffrey use his hypervigilence to reframe the issue from a problem-orientation to a solution-orientation.

BARRY: That being said, what would make this course more relevant to you right now?

JEFFREY: We should build in assumption checkpoints when either you, Amy or any of us make blanket statements about this group. This way, we will have an opportunity to check out our hypotheses and ensure that we are all on the same page and not working against each other.

BARRY: Excellent idea, Jeffrey. Would you be willing to call out “assumption checkpoint” when a blanket statement is made in the room?

JEFFREY: Sure. I’d be glad to.

BARRY: Good, thank you for pointing this discrepancy out.

NARRATOR: Lemon Face softened his scowl, took some responsibility for his reactions and started solving his own problem. Meet Jeffrey Feinstein, our second Lemon Face, next to Doug Johnson, whose acidity has been neutralized by a gallon of Look and Listen water.

About the Author: Barry Shapiro is an extraordinary facilitator, executive coach, consultant, and author of Casting Call in the Theater of Corporate America. He helps individuals and organizations unleash breakthrough creativity to inspire themselves and their people to live more authentically and to perform more effectively. Barry’s vision is to demystify the concept and practice of leadership and make it accessible to managers around the globe so they can improve the world in which we live and work. Learn more about Barry at

Add Your Comments


When's the last time you were faced with a Lemonface? How did you deal with it? Please click on the Add Your Comments and tell us about it.

Expert Interview
barry shapiro

Facilitators Studio
What is Your Role in the Theatre of Facilitation?

An interview with Barry Shapiro, Extraordinary Facilitator and author of Casting Call In The Theatre of Corporate America

Barry Shapiro, author of Casting Call In The Theatre of Corporate America: The Role of The Extraordinary Facilitator believes that “All the world’s problems can be solved through effectively facilitated conversations.” Barry’s unique approach to facilitation blends foundational principles from organizational development and from acting and theatre.

Join Steve Davis and guest expert Barry Shapiro in this one-hour interview on Friday, January 28th at 10am Eastern (New York) Time where we’ll explore the following questions to help you integrate some of these principles into your own practice.

Click here for further details and registration

This Week's Offer

Becoming a Learning Facilitator Guide
This 80-page ebook explores how to make the leap from conventional teaching to the skills, attitudes, and practices necessary to create and facilitate a learning environment.

Quit Teaching...Become a Learning Facilitator Learn strategies, tools, and techniques to make the shift from Teaching to "Learning Facilitation."
Click here for details
Cost: $29.95

Facilitator's Questions Collection
This 35-page collection contains 20 sets of questions grouped according to the many themes upon which groups typically focus.

Use these lists in preparation for working with a group or use them as catalysts for the development of your own questions. You can put this practical guide to use right away with your groups without hours of study and contemplation.

Click here for details
Cost: $29.95

Special Offer: Buy the Learning Facilitator Guide
and the Facilitation Questions Collection for only $49

Learning Facilitator Guide & Questions Collection for $49

Click above to purchase for immediate download Membership Option

Become a member and receive these guides for free along with a host of other items and benefits. An exceptional value. Click here for details.

About the satisfaction guarantee

If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this package, simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. This policy completely removes the buying risk for you and keeps our customer-satisfaction rates extremely high.

©2001-2013. Powered by, Madison, WI.. All Rights Reserved.