Facilitation: Hearing Silent Elephants

As a facilitator in a workshop, sometimes  I can hear an ‘elephant in the room’ (silent issue/s) if I:ElephantSmall

  • listen
  • empathise
  • trust the process
  • am open
  • allow enough time
  • hear all the voices in the room
  • provide a comfortable physical and emotional environment
  • am comfortable with silence

When I sense that silent elephant in the room, my responsibility as a facilitator is to help others in the room acknowledge it and deal with it. Not an easy process! 

And sometimes those eight skills are just not enough to encourage participants to name and discuss the ‘elephant’ themselves. I suppose it depends on the culture of the organisation – how people interact with each other and the level of trust it’s  possible to generate in the room at the time.

But unless those elephants are acknowledged and people are able to rise above the difficulties or conflicts they represent, nothing will change.

The whole process can be hard work  – for participants in the group as well as for the facilitator!

But helping people to hear those silent elephants and move beyond them is deeply satisfying work and one of the joys of being a facilitator.

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