Learning to be a facilitator


August 21st, 2009

As I continue my own journey of learning to be a facilitator, and work with others to help develop their skills and awareness, I wonder what it takes to BE a facilitator?

Here’s what I see in the *best* facilitators:

Broad-ranging interests
An awareness of what’s happening in the world – locally, nationally and internationally – is useful, I think. Context is always important, and being aware of the broader context, as well as international trends, can be invaluable.

Empathy
An ability to relate to all sorts of people, from different backgrounds and cultures, without judgement. Inclusiveness is an important value for facilitators to live, and to model.

Focused
The ability to put aside everything else when facilitating to be completely present for the group.

Agile
Able to dance around the politics and machinations without getting involved or taking sides.

Performance
To be able to build rapport and engage with individuals and the group as a whole. This doesn’t mean being flashy. It does mean making connection.

Fearlessness
To know, intuitively, when to push and when to ease off.

And here’s what I notice the *best* facilitators NOT doing:

Fixing individuals or the group
Fixing presumes you know what’s best, and it also presumes that something’s broken. Dangerous territory for a facilitator. Best to focus on creating awareness and let individuals and the group decide their own response.

Doing the work
It’s an easy day out for participants when the facilitator does all the work on behalf of the group!

Ploughing on regardless
Even when all the signals say stop!, some facilitators plough on anyway. After all, they have a plan! This is different to navigating a group through the groan zone when the going gets tough.

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