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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0062| July 16, 2002
7,700 Subscribers


Approaches to Dealing With Difficult Behaviors II
 Know specific actions you can take to gracefully deal with the "difficult" behaviors.

The Point

This is a continuation of last week's treatment of dealing with difficult behaviors. More examples in dealing with specific difficult situations follow below. 


6. Being Constantly Negative or Antagonistic, or Presenting a Hostile Demeanor. Some people are nay-sayers, doubters, and cynics. Nothing is okay and n thing will work. They always seem skeptical. Their negative expressions may be either verbal or nonverbal.

- Acknowledge their points of view.
- Make a special point of thoroughly paraphrasing their view the first couple of times they speak. Stick very close to their exact wording.
- Point out the negative pattern.
- Ask if there is any part of the work that they feel good about.
- Ask for their opinions about what is needed. Record the opinions. Ask the group to respond.

7. Interrupting Others. When people cut off others who are speaking or jump into a conversation too soon, they disrupt the flow of information and show disrespect for the other person. These interruptions can be verbal or highly distracting nonverbal expressions. Even when there is a ground rule against this, it still seems to happen.

- Enforce the related ground rule.
- Stop the interrupter and ask him or her to wait while the group allows the speaker to complete his or her thought or point.
- Ask people who feel impatient to write down their thoughts rather than blurt them out.
- This happens most frequently in larger groups, which tend to give members the feeling that they may not get a chance to speak. When your group has nine or more members, establish a hand-raising rule. As people raise their hands, say, "OK, we'll hear first from (member's name), then (member's name), then (member's name]," and so on. Make sure you follow through in calling on people in sequence.
- Be neutral and consistent. Don't let some interrupt but not others.

8. Non-Participation. Some people remain silent in group meetings. They seem unable or unwilling to speak up. They may be timid, fearful of something, or unsure of themselves and what they have to offer. Sometimes they drop out, withdraw, or work on something else.

- Talk to them privately at another time. Find out their problem.
- Call on them by name. For example, "John, we haven't heard from you on this. Could you share your thoughts with us?"
- Thank them when they do contribute.
- Turn to them when the agenda moves to an area that you know they can address with confidence, conviction, or expertise.
- Early in key conversations, have everyone respond briefly in turn to a specific cue question intended to stimulate discussion.

9. Attacking, Criticizing, or Picking an Argument. Some people go after other members or the facilitator to argue or personally attack. Sometimes this is just counter-dependence, aimed at discrediting or trying to change what the group is doing.

- Describe, non-judgmentally, what the person is doing.
- Ask if the criticism or judgment (attack) is based on something that has occurred in the meeting.
- Stop any argument. Ask for and record a statement of each position. Engage other group members in discussing their positions.
- Ask the person what the group could do to respond to his or her concern.

10. Clowning. Sometimes a person may overuse humor, act silly, or joke about everything. These are usually attention-getting behaviors if they are regular and patterned. Once in a while these behaviors can, of course, be helpful in infusing the group with energy.

- Ignore the behavior and the person.
- Ask the person to stop it.
- Describe what is going on and point out its distracting quality.
- Talk to the person privately, after the meeting or during a break.
If the person has really disrupted the meeting, take a break. Talk to him or her Come back with a structure and focus on the agenda.

11. Attendance Problems. Some people repeatedly arrive late or leave early, miss meeting , or make a habit of ducking in and out. These actions disrupt the group, delaying or halting its progress.

- Take the time to get an attendance commitment from the group. Enforce It.
- Speak to the person outside of the meeting.
- Don't review anything or stop the meeting for such people.
- Suggest either or both of these ground rules: "Members agree to support any decision made in their absence," and/or 'There will be no reviews for people absent at any time."
- Ask members to announce if, when, and why they have to leave, come late, or miss a meeting.
- At the beginning of the meeting, review the scheduled times and ask if there is 4nyone who will not be able to be there for any part of the meeting.
- Ask one of the group members to update someone on a break.
- Have the group leader ask these members to come to meetings regularly. If they can't do that, replace them. Ask those who can't regularly participate to suggest replacements in the group. Avoid allowing "temporary" replacements to ill in for another member.

Adapted from "The Skilled Facilitator," by Justice and Jamieson.


This week, practice one of the actions above in the groups you attend or facilitate. I'd love to hear you're experiences. Please email me your comments.

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Advanced Facilitation & Consulting Skills Practicum
Using Self As Instrument
With Linda Lehtonen 

October 7-11, 2002, Bowen Island, 
near Vancouver, Canada 

Who Should Attend
· Leaders, facilitators and professionals who want to deepen their leadership, facilitation, teambuilding, consulting skills or human relations skills
· Anyone seeking a quantum growth in self awareness and awareness of self in relation to others.

Workshop Objectives
1. Increase your understanding of individual, team and organizational functioning by understanding systems theory
2. Understand more about your own team behavior
3. Learn how to facilitate teams to high performance
4. Learn to assess problems and help teams to resolve interpersonal conflicts
5. Develop strategies and design interventions for team building
6. Learn to use self as the instrument of change
7. Utilize a framework of interventions consistent with your own style and organizational culture
8. Understand how you get in your own way in facilitating groups

Principles Which Guide This Program
Trust your hunches - learn to use your feelings as a group barometer
Trust the process - learn to detach from outcome and let go of your need to control
Be authentic in your role - learn how to develop your character and forget about your reputation
Meet people where they are - learn to be in a place of compassion, integrity and love instead of fear.
Be present and grounded- learn to be fully in the moment and mindful of all that is going on 

These principles guide the facilitation process. Each principle is explored fully in the 5-day workshop. Participants will be both members of consulting teams and facilitators/consultants to another team. This will enable you to experience working your own team issues. Your team will contract work with another team, diagnose their needs, design and implement an intervention. The workshop is primarily experiential with theoretical inputs. This is an intense residential program which involves some evening work.

What People Say
"…better presentations [according to my reviewers] by staying in the moment that Linda demonstrates so very well ......also did a special presentation about the 'heart connection' these are the two constants and most enduring facets I have taken from the seminar. They serve me more every day in the way I present myself... I can just be and lessen my judgment and opinion mindset..." -John Sweetnam, President, CDS Group of Companies 

"My experience attending Linda's Advanced Facilitation Skills course vastly exceeded my expectations. What I learned about my own effect on group interaction and about my personal reaction to some group dynamics has continually improved my skill and confidence as a facilitator. I've recommended this course to many of my colleagues and all have returned from the experience with a sense of renewal and excitement."-- Linda Padfield, Director of Organizational Development, Inco 

"Within 1 hour of beginning our 5-day retreat, Linda created an environment that invited direct talk about deeply felt issues. Her own willingness to be transparent to others invites like disclosure. Her compassion, skillful discernment, and sense of humor, provide loving challenge and new insights for everyone in the room! -- Karen Shuttleworth, Educator/Facilitator, St. Joseph's Health Centre 

About Linda Lehtonen
Linda is a master facilitator who has worked all over the globe. She is able to facilitate groups from a place of extreme conflict, confusion and chaos, and "stuckness" to a place of productivity, harmony and community. She has developed her ability to intuitively tune in to individuals and groups and cut to the heart of what might be blocking people from moving forward and living more calmly and healthfully. She works with people from a place of authenticity, profound respect and compassion. 

Linda believes in giving people practical tools to help them live more fully and serve others in their organizations. Three major guiding principles she works from are to trust her hunches, to trust the process, and to be authentic. Her work has had a profound impact on thousands of people in helping them transform themselves, 
the workplace and their lives.

About Katherine Maas 
Katherine Maas will be joining Linda for the Bowen Island program. She is a personal coach and learning consultant with over 20 years experience developing leaders and facilitators. Throughout her varied career, her focus has always been on improving human and organizational effectiveness by improving human systems, communication, and relationships. She facilitates from a passionate belief that personal and interpersonal mastery are essential prerequisites for successful and balanced groups and organizations. 

A continuous learner, Katherine holds an MA and has completed extensive human relations training. She reads voraciously and excels at cross-disciplinary thinking. 

Location, Costs, and Registration

Bowen Island, British Columbia, Canada (near Vancouver)
Dates: October 6-11, 2002

Where: Bowen Lodge by the Sea, Bowen Island, BC. A peaceful, natural setting only 20 minutes by ferry from Vancouver. A car is not required on Bowen Island, though you may choose to bring one. You can take a bus or cab to Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal to catch the Bowen Island Ferry. Ferry service is approximately hourly from about 6 am until about 9:30 pm. For exact schedule information, see or phone BC Ferries at (250) 386-3431.

Cost: CDN$ 3084.20 single occupancy (all taxes included) 
CDN$ 2896.70 double occupancy (all taxes included)
A good deal for US residents: Canadian dollar is worth approximately $0.65 US. Price includes 5 nights accommodation and all meals, beginning with dinner at 6 pm October 6 through lunch October 11. The program finishes at noon on October 11. 

Information and Registration: Contact Katherine Maas at 604-985-2245, or email


Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on July 23, 2002.   

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