Facilitators accept responsibility for moving through the agenda in the allotted time, guiding the process, and suggesting alternate or additional techniques. In this sense, they do lead the group. However, they do not give their personal opinions nor do they attempt to direct the content of the discussion. If they want to participate, they must clearly relinquish the role and speak as an individual. During a meeting, individuals are responsible for expressing their own concerns and thoughts. Facilitators, on the other hand, are responsible for addressing the needs of the group. They need to be aware of the Group Dynamics and constantly evaluate whether the discussion is flowing well. There may be a need for a change in the discussion technique. They need to be diligent about the fair distribution of attention, being sure to limit those who are speaking often and offering opportunities to those who are not speaking much or at all. It follows that one person cannot simultaneously give attention to the needs of the group and think about a personal response to a given situation. Also, it is not appropriate for the Facilitator to give a particular point of view or dominate the discussion. This does not build trust, especially in those who do not agree with the Facilitator.
Contributors: C.T. Butler, Amy Rothstein
Recommended Books: On Conflict on Consensus
We all have an inalienable right to express our own best thoughts. We decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. Since Consensus is a process of synthesis, not competition, all sincere comments are important and valuable. If ideas are put forth as the speaker's property and individuals are strongly attached to their opinions, Consensus will be extremely difficult. Stubbornness, closed-mindedness, and possessiveness lead to defensive and argumentative behaviour that disrupts the process. For active participation to occur, it is necessary to promote trust by creating an atmosphere in which every contribution is considered valuable. With encouragement, each person can develop knowledge and experience, a sense of responsibility and competency, and the ability to participate.
The pace or flow of the meeting is the responsibility of the Facilitator. If the atmosphere starts to become tense, choose techniques which encourage balance and cooperation. If the meeting is going slowly and people are becoming restless, suggest a stretch or rearrange the agenda.Read more
To help the discussion flow more smoothly, those who want to speak can silently signal the Facilitator, who would add the person's name to a list of those wishing to speak, and call them in that order.Read more
Unfortunately, modern day society is saturated in competition. When winning arguments becomes more important than achieving the group's goals, cooperation is difficult, if not impossible. Adversarial attitudes toward proposals or people focus attention on weakness rather than strength. An attitude of helpfulness and support builds cooperation. Cooperation is a shared responsibility in finding solutions to all concerns. Ideas offered in the spirit of cooperation help resolve conflict. The best decisions arise through an open and creative interplay of ideas.
Social change is a broad umbrella term that encompasses a range of typical social and civic outcomes ranging from increased awareness and understanding, to attitudinal change, to increased civic participation, the building of public will, to policy change that corrects injustice. Acknowledging that social change must start with the individual, as an organization we emphasize impact that happens at a broader institutional, group, or community level.
Sources: What is Social Change?
Contributors: Animating Democracy
Recommended Reading: What is Social Change?
The Facilitator is responsible for the fair distribution of attention during meetings. Facilitators call the attention of the group to one speaker at a time. The grammar school method is the most common technique for choosing the next speaker. The Facilitator recognizes each person in the order in which hands are raised. Often, inequities occur because the attention is dominated by an individual or class of individuals. This can occur because of socialized behavioral problems such as racisim, sexism, or the like, or internal dynamics such as experience, seniority, fear, shyness, disrespect, ignorance of the process, etc. Inequities can be corrected in many creative ways. For example, if men are speaking more often than women, the Facilitator can suggest a pause after each speaker, the women counting to 5 before speaking, the men counting to 10. In controversial situations, the Facilitator can request that 3 speakers speak for the proposal, and 3 speak against it. If the group would like to avoid having the Facilitator select who speaks next, the group can self-select by asking the last speaker to pass an object, a talking stick, to the next. Even more challenging. have each speaker stand before speaking, and begin where there is only one person standing. These are only a handful of the many possible problems and solutions that exist. Be creative. Invent your own.Read more