Easy Pieces for Facile Facilitators, #3 and #4
We’re exploring easy pieces for facile facilitators. Today’s post covers # 3 and #4.
3. Focus On Results
You can stay on track by doing a few things really well.
Preserve your neutrality: If you’re perceived as having taken a side on an idea or issue, it can cost you in credibility and authority with anyone on the other side.
Get examples: When participants make claims about ‘how it is,’ or ‘why something won’t work,’ ask for the specific examples they are using as points of reference. This can stimulate deep discussion, and bring real clarity to it.
Ask questions that require more than a grunt in response. I’m referring to the open ended questions, like who, what, where, when and how.
When in doubt about what you’re hearing, say ‘Tell me more!’ Chances are if you don’t get it, others also don’t get it. Giving the person saying it the chance to provide more details makes for greater clarity and responsiveness.
Make sure all ideas are heard and credit given where due. Otherwise, a fast paced discussion may quickly move past the key ideas necessary to deliver the result, meet the goal or resolve the conflict.
4. Maintain Control
It’s a common phenomenon that every group has at least one or two people who will happily take over the conversation, and one or two who are quieter in temperament who will let them. Yet the quiet people can arrive at great ideas and solutions and nobody will be the wiser for it! That’s a loss to your group that you can prevent by doing the following:
Make sure to ask questions of the quiet people, in order to get them involved in the discussion.
Respectfully ask the eager talkers to ‘hold onto that thought,’ and then redirect to the quieter people in order to get them involved in the discussion.
Be alert to non-verbal signals throughout your group that might indicate someone is reacting to something but saying nothing. Flincing, grimacing, shaking the head no, these are indicators that you can pick up in your peripheral vision and respond to by giving them some attention.
Pull persistent people aside. If someone continues to be disruptive or domineering, take a brief break and talk to them privately. Start by appreciating their energy and eagerness to contribute. Then ask for their help. You can then point out that there are others in the group that you’d like to hear from or that may have something valuable to contribute, and express your concern that they won’t speak up until the talkative person tones it down. Offer assurances that you will come back to them and get their input.
Back next time with pieces 5 and 6. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your comments and stories from facilitations of your own!
Rick is a best selling author and the founder of the Art of Change Skills for Life. His book titles include, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst, Life by Design and Influence and the Art of Persuasion. These days he is spending quality time away from the spotlight enjoying the company of his wife and practicing his electric guitar.