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- Ein Beitrag aus dem Internet-Diskussionsforum "Search" -

At 10:42 AM 21/4/97, Gordezky/Iosue wrote:

>The question I have is this: what is our role as conference facilitators
>in raising or not raising the issues that people speak to us about?
>There were a number of times before day three when I wanted to make the
>observation to the conference that people were saying stuff to me but
>not to the whole group, then asking for their reaction. I didn't
>because my sense has been that I am there not to raise issues but for
>people to do the best they can with what they've got and with what they
>are willing to take on. I'd be interested in comments.

This is a question almost as old as faciliation itself; and needs to be raised from time to time. It is very very easy for facilitators to be self righteous about this, and the way I stopped myself being so (at least I hope), was to remember the times that I was in the participant's shoes. How did I feel about bringing up difficult issues ? Did I have the "fight/flight" reaction when the facilitator placed this huge responsibilty on the meeting to discuss the undiscussible ? Even so, I have created and fallen into just about every trap you can think of here.

Here is what I tend to do these days (but things change all the time).

Firstly, I discuss with the person whether they know other people who are feeling the same way. Perhaps the person could discuss this with them. This can at times avoid the problem of one person claiming that they speak for a range of people, when they are essentially articulating a unique view.

Secondly, I ask them to forget the particular issue and consider what in general terms would need to be done to make this "undiscussible" issue, discussible. I then get them to consider what the group could do about this. The benefits of this is that if there is a group dynamic or other block, removing it could open up opportunities for other "undiscussible"issues to be raised

Finally, when this has been done, I say that I will not go into bat for them, but open up a safe opportunity for them or others to raise the matter. What I often do in this circumstance is to mention in plenery session that it might be an idea to check-in about how the process is working (since improvements can always be made) and whether any changes need to be made. I ask people to get out a piece of paper and write down all the aspects of the process which are working well and those which are not. I assure them that this information is private to them, unless they wish to make it public. I then ask for contributions from the floor and write up them up (one column of "working" and one column of "not working"). What normally happens is that someone identifies a tentative negative, someone else then adds something slightly stronger, and more often than not after about five minutes the person who came to me feels able to raise their point. What I often do next (so that the process doesn't end in a doom and gloom breastbeating session), is to call for ways in which the group can resolve some of the negatives, but on condition that it improves (or doesn't reduce) the positives.

Excellent question.