Engagement in the Group Dynamic
1. The facilitator (s) endeavour to be clear from the start on the form for the meeting rather than the whole group spending a lot of unnecessary time talking about the methodology to be used to attend to the agenda.
2. If the facilitator is unclear and clings to notions of consensus about the approach to the meeting, it often leads to everybody in the group expressing numerous perceptions, ideas and views that end up confusing and irresolvable. Then probably nobody feels satisfied. (Believe me, these first two points apply particularly to Buddhist conferences)!
3. A large group should always be prepared to break up from time to time into small groups who employ a reporter to come back to the plenary session to give an accurate summary. Some people are more confident to express their feelings and thoughts in small groups.
4. It is more effective to go deeply into a specific number of themes rather than trying to cover a lot of themes to please everybody. If the facilitator tries to please everybody, it only ends up fragmented and superficial.
5. Remember there are views expressed within the acceptable frame of the group itself and there are views expressed outside of the frame.
6. If a stony silence is met after one view is expressed, the facilitator may need to ask why.
7. Tone of voice, general attitude and communication skills of a participant affect the rest of the group whether the view is inside or outside of the acceptable frame.
8. Task of facilitator is to acknowledge and draw out tone of voice, attitude and view while not excluding any of the three.
9. The facilitator may explore expanding on a short statement or abbreviating a long statement by a participant.
10. If the facilitator reflects back the words of a participant, then remember to use their words, not yours. while maintaining a calm and clear voice.
11. Be clear as to whether you want to explore a small range of views or want to gather a lot of perceptions about something.
12. If a large group, remember to establish an order for those who wish to speak. The facilitator may need to remind the group that perhaps there are two, three or four issues all going on at the same time, if that is the case.
13. If the facilitator is reflecting where the whole group is, then the facilitator should remember to ask if his or her reflection is a fair summing up of what is going on.
14. Remember to ensure gender balance in speakers, give inspiration, express appreciation, and put in suggestions oneself, if appropriate.
15. If the facilitator is getting positive or negative feedback, keep the body calm and upright, listen, give simple acknowledgement ‘thank you’ and move on.
16. Make use of silence, perhaps just for few seconds or a minute or two, such as in a heated time or scattered or widespread views or in a longish meeting.
17. Express what is common and what is not. If difficult, then invite a very short statement from the participants from one to the other in a clockwise direction. It takes time but may be necessary. Close the meeting with calm words and moments of silence.
Facilitators Guide to Participatory Decision Making.
(Large format, 255 pages by Sam Kaner published
By New Society Publishers, Canada