With Difficult Behaviors
Know how to
gracefully deal with the "problem" participant.
of the most challenging things for us to deal with as facilitators
is the "difficult" participant. I'm sure you've all
experienced this either as a member or leader of a group. You
know the kind of person I'm talking about. He's the one who keeps
interrupting the group to ramble incessantly on some seemingly
irrelevant topic. It seems that everyone but him can sense the
tension in the room and the members psychically screaming for
him to "Please shut up!"
Or you maybe you remember the antagonist. The one member that
has to disagree, argue, or criticize every comment someone makes.
We've been so conditioned to be "nice" in our culture
that we feel tongue-tied and helpless when someone else isn't
being so nice in our groups. As facilitators, and hopefully as
participants too, we have got to learn to compassionately and
effectively handle these kinds of behaviors. The next two issues
will be devoted to methods of handling individual behaviors that
we might consider "difficult" as facilitators. This
issue provides some general guidelines. The next will go into
strategies to handle specific behaviors.
1. When possible, talk to them privately to point out the problem
and coach them toward more desirable behaviors. Approach as a
friend and ally, not as an authority figure.
2. Focus on a specific desired behavior.
3. Don' judge a person's behavior as right or wrong.
4. Try to maintain the balance between protecting the group from
the distracting behavior and protecting the individual from undue
5. Accept what they're doing. Describe it. Ask about it.
6. Legitimize their feelings, perceptions, or rights.
7. Work with their issues when it will be productive for the group,
or defer the issues to a time when the group is likely to perform
well, despite the distraction.
8. Be sure to have ground rules and norms for participation, so
that the group can self monitor. Refer to the group for enforcement
when someone is out of line.
Adapted from "The Skilled
Facilitator," by Justice and Jamieson.
week, think of difficult situations in groups you've attended
or run. How did you handle them or how do you wish you would
have handled them? I'd love to hear you're experiences.
me your comments.
I'm looking for a partner for the Master Facilitator Journal
To be honest, I'm realizing I need help to fully develop this
journal and website to its full potential. I'm looking for someone
who is comfortable on the Internet, is actively involved in professional
facilitation, training, or consulting, who would both benefit
and add value to this ezine and website. You should have a good
business sense, a good sense of humor, be a good team player,
a decent writer, confident, dependable, perseverant, and willing
to help take this site to the next level in terms of value offered
and profitability. If you're interested, please email
me with your qualifications and reasons for wanting
to be involved.