Want our latest musings, inspirations and resources sent to you every month? Difficult conversation meetings are hard for everyone; that’s why they are “difficult.” But good facilitation and agenda design can make a big difference in the outcome. When it comes to facilitation, it’s not enough to simply have a meeting agenda. Consider who knows the topic, can assume an "objective" role, will be accepted by the group and has group experience. A facilitator is a skilled questioner who can help equalize participation, elicit wisdom, and clarify the situation at hand. Contributing Author: Jennifer Britton, MES, CPCC, PCC has been a group facilitator since the late 1980s.Her work with groups has taken her from the wilds of one of Canada's most famous provincial parks, to Corporate Boardrooms in New York, Toronto, London, to the rivers and jungles of South America, and UN regional offices. In situations where you know you will be addressing a controversial topic, you can prepare for the discussion in ways that set the stage for success. This is one of the most important group facilitation skills a facilitator can have. 1. Following distressing local and national events, individuals may experience a broad range of emotions including fear, anger, anxiety, and intimidation. Successful facilitators adapt their style to meet the needs of the group, and by doing so, draw the best ideas out of their team. Your role as an active facilitator can include rewording questions posed by students, correcting misinformation, making reference to relevant reading materials or course content, asking for clarification, and reviewing main … Provide opportunities for participants to pair-share. Urge contrarians to expand on ideas rather than criticizing them, and to keep all comments positive. We’ve identified some tough personas you might encounter in meetings and how to tweak your facilitation plan to better manage them. This approach has given life to new services, industries, and some of the world’s most powerful leaders. Exploring ineffective and effective race talk strategies will lead to more positive outcomes in workshop and classroom settings. Alternatively, break into smaller groups for more focused problem-solving to help make this type feel more comfortable opening up. While it seems like ramblers just like to hear themselves talk, many are actually thinking out loud and speaking before they have a fully formed idea. The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning at Brown University has provided a step-by-step guide for effectively facilitating group discussions. The faculty mini-course explores how to facilitate difficult conversations in the classroom through small and large group discussions, role plays, case studies, and demonstrations of new techniques with opportunities to practice them. Facilitators are non-directive, and try to keep themselves out of the discussion, except to ask questions or make statements that advance it. The goal of facilitating group conversations (critical conversations) is to help groups become teams that work together to solve problems. Be careful to maintain some control but not over-control. Facilitating a meeting is not always an easy task. Ask other group members to finish or repeat their points if interrupted. Leading a successful discussion often comes down to managing different types of people—and the more difficult the personalities in the room, the harder it is. Facilitating a Difficult Discussion. FACILITATION – Group discussion involving a trained, neutral facilitator to assist in addressing difficult issues. Build a fact base. Build a fact base. Adjust your facilitation style. Leading a successful discussion often comes down to managing different types of people—and the more difficult the personalities in the room, the harder it is. Develop an awareness for barriers for learning (cultural; social; experiential, etc). That isn’t an easy task, but by using these techniques, you get one step closer to creating a capable and effective team. This is one of the most important group facilitation skills a facilitator can have. In order to keep a discussion focused and purposeful, it is important to be an active facilitator rather than a passive observer. Biggest strength? Break the group into pairs or triads and let them discuss an issue in those smaller groups before initiating a large group discussion; Gain agreement with your team to use a physical object (e.g. Difficult conversation meetings are hard for everyone; that’s why they are “difficult.” But good facilitation and agenda design can make a big difference in the outcome. Simply, raise your hand and interrupt discussion to ask if the conversation is on topic and helping the group reach their goal for the meeting. However, you can leverage some great inquiry techniques to facilitate conversations an Groups often struggle with decision-making, particularly when dealing with tough problems. Contrarians can cause less confident team members to hold back ideas, which can ultimately lead to fewer contributions to the group. Sidetrackers can derail a meeting with too many off-topic discussions. It is the same when facilitating a difficult discussion with a group. Anyone who’s facilitated a meeting or learning event knows it takes dedication, perseverance, and deep reflection on what the group really needs to progress…and the more carefully we listen, the easier it is to figure out! Or, the conversation goes round and round without a clear way forward. We are in the business of helping organizations facilitate conversations so they can come together, think better, and move forward. Bulldozers are similar to sidetrackers in that they derail meeting productivity, but the difference is that bulldozers stick to the topic at hand while dominating the discussion and interrupting other team members. Empathy goes a long way toward dealing with people we perceive as difficult to work with in meetings. We'd love to know how we can help you create what's next for your organization. An important element of critical conversations is how to facilitate team discussions. In meetings, ideas will always arise that aren’t on the agenda. Consider possible sources of student views.On many issues, students’ viewpoints may be wrapped up in their personal identities, influenced by family members, or connected to religious/spiritual/moral beliefs. Harness a unique human technology called Integral Facilitation and 20 facilitation competencies. The faculty mini-course explores how to facilitate difficult conversations in the classroom through small and large group discussions, role plays, case studies, and demonstrations of new techniques with opportunities to practice them. Consider what you know about the topic, whether your views are known to students, and whether that makes your role as a facilitator too difficult. So a challenge to an idea may be seen as a personal challenge as well. Consider co-facilitating with another person. Action planning is vital for team success. Effective facilitation of a discussion involves the recognition and employment of different perspectives and different skills to create an inclusive environment. Intervene when necessary and help the group clarify … This is where the “parking lot” comes in—a running list of items that come up during a meeting that are worth addressing at another time. Some sidetrackers keep hammering away at an idea long after it’s been added to the parking lot, disrupting the discussion and making it more difficult to address items on the agenda. ... Take a moment for the group to practice a breathing exercise or mindful relaxation technique before ending the meeting. This guide addresses the role discussion leaders play, and also outlines the do’s, the don’ts they should abide by, as … about issues that matter. Facilitate discussions: Staying neutral, you will help kick-off and round up conversations, highlighting points of consensus and summarising key takeaways. 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