I believe that the most important person you need to facilitate to be the most effective is…yourself. Self-Facilitation is a necessary skill requiring you to practice conscious and mindful action in each and every moment, which is made all the more challenging in the presence of a dynamic, sometimes dysfunctional group, expecting you to lead them!
A lot can go on in one’s mind when engaged in leading a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. Particularly when those individuals aren’t quite in agreement with one another about where they want to go and how to get there. To complicate matters, you too, as a group facilitator, have your own set of opinions, biases, and reactions to what goes on in this dynamic process.
The very process of leading groups can be a catalyst for expanding self-awareness. Facilitating groups can cause you to see your inner terrain more obviously than nearly any other event in life.
So how does one facilitate themselves to be their best with those they’re facilitating?
Facilitate your “Inner Group”. Our personalities contain multiple aspects that often rise up and struggle to take charge. Recall how you show up in the world when you’re in public vs. in private; with a lover vs. a casual co-worker; with a child vs. an adult; or writing a letter vs. playing a round of Ping-Pong. Our personalities are multifaceted and our various aspects show up as needed. Facilitators must be adept at managing their “inner groups,” their sub personalities, so that they can best focus on the group’s needs.
How does one facilitate their “inner group?” Well, in the same way you facilitate any group. Listen and be curious about their points of view, keep their goal (your intention) in mind, choose behaviors that support your goals for the group, then own and adjust (and sometimes apologize) for behaviors that don’t.
Example. I once attended a workshops aimed at facilitators, trainers, coaches, and group leaders. In this workshop, we got the opportunity to work in small groups to complete assigned tasks. As is often the case when working with fellow facilitators, I found the experience very frustrating.
Here are some of the thoughts that went on in my head:
Good God these facilitators are way too hung up on process, we’re going to talk our time right out and never get close to our goal.
I’m a facilitator, shouldn’t I be doing something?
But so are they. We’re all facilitators, but hey, whose facilitating THIS group?
Some of these facilitators are talking a lot and some of what they’re saying is pretty good. Maybe they know better than I do.
Then again, some of them seem to be going off on tangents. I notice that I’m getting angry. I need to say something without spilling my anger onto them.
What should I say?
Hey, how about a simple question to check in?
So I finally said to the group…”Excuse me for a second. We have about 10 minutes left to complete
this task. Is what we’re doing now going to get us there in time?” I got to express what was coming up for me and it helped us converge on our task.
What Are Your Intentions? Pure facilitation involves the empowerment of the group desires independent
of any desires or biases on the part of the facilitator. Therefore, facilitators are called to be “neutral” with regard to the content and output of their groups.
This of course is an idealized and “purist” version of facilitation. In reality, we all have subjective views about everything. Further, facilitators can’t help but hold “intentions” that influence the course of their groups. Our definition of intention here is not only about the desire one holds for their group, but also the beliefs they hold about their groups.
For example, if you want your group to succeed in its outcome but believe that they are incapable of doing so, your intention is impotent and may not support results. Resolve this inner misalignment as your first action. Being clear and transparent around your intentions as a facilitator is your first, and perhaps greatest contribution to helping groups succeed.
Stay Tuned for more on this topic of self-facilitation. If you’d like us to address specific elements of this topic, have your own stories to share, or otherwise comment on this article, I’d love to hear from you!
How do you facilitate yourself? I invite you to share your questions, feedback, or experience on this topic in the comments section below.
Soul Aligned Healing
Soul Aligned Healing is a gentle one-on-one process that can be done either in person or over the phone. The Soul Alignment process is essentially about reconnecting with your Soul by sensing and releasing layers of defense and conditioning that impede this connection.
So what is Soul you ask? Emerson spoke of the Soul as that part of us that is a pure expression of Divine consciousness. I would add: Soul is that vast, infinite, purposeful intelligence that animates life itself.
Through gentle, intentional awareness, the Soul will resolve and dissolve these barriers naturally and effortlessly. The fewer unconscious defenses we have, the more we are naturally energized, supported, and guided in our lives.
As I build this new practice, I’m offering these sessions on a donation basis. After the session, you can decide to pay whatever you can afford and feel the session was worth. I invite you to contact me to schedule a session.You can find further details here.