Be a Facilitator

What do I mean by facilitator and why would you benefit by being one?

I hear a number of complaints from business audiences about the people they work for and with. They say people complain, manipulate, whine, gossip and act out in covert and overt ways.  “Do they seem to act like children?”, I ask. It brings a laugh and lots of talking with their neighbors about the offenders they work with. When it quiets down I ask, “Are you acting as a parent or sibling in relationship to their behavior?” I get silence and quirky looks reflecting curiosity. What might I be getting at?

Ask versus Tell
Over time, as children are raised, it is important to balance telling them what to do with asking questions to help draw out their own answers. It is a way to help build their self-esteem.

Stop Giving Advice
The same goes for relationships at work and with friends. Stop giving solicited or unsolicited advice. Alternatively, help your co-worker or employee or friend discover their own answers. What happens if your advice doesn’t work for them? Who do they blame? Who owns the outcome?

Help Them Find Their Answers
People who act out or reach out for advice don’t trust themselves. Your job, if you would receive it, is to help them mature and grow. They are helping you mature and grow by giving you this opportunity. Instead of giving advice say, “If you knew the answer, what do you think it would be?” If they persist in having you give advice, affirm that they know and encourage them further, “Make it up. What do you think?”

Stay in the Question
A facilitator asks the appropriate questions, at the appropriate time, from genuine curiosity and a sincere desire to draw out the best in a person. A facilitator is a detached listener and mirror, which creates a safe space for the truth to be drawn out and worked with. In some ways like a therapist, except that facilitators refer people who have significant mental and emotional challenges to therapists. Being a facilitator is not being a therapist. It is a mature communication skill.

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