At the end of the third day of the I Make a Difference personal development programme, Mariaan was so enthusiastic and excited to get home. She wanted to ‘tell’ her teenage children what they needed to do to understand and develop themselves.
The morning of the fourth day of IMAD, she shared with myself and the group what she had done. And how her teenagers had shut down on her, judged her and resisted what she was saying to them. She had imposed her process, her beliefs, her processing and her discoveries on her children, and they did not want a bar of it.
We had some amazing conversations that morning and as a result of Mariaan’s previous nights experiences, as a group we explored and talked through a facilitated approach to sharing with her family, what she had learnt and how she had grown.
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE RATHER THAN TELL
Instead of telling her family, it was a matter of honoring that this was her process. This was something she was going through and experiencing emotionally, mentally, energy-wise and physically, and that her purpose for taking this journey was for HER growth. So the focus was to be on herself and her growth. Then as she expressed herself differently (because of her growth), her children and partner would potentially and naturally see the differences in her. And if they are meant to, they would ask her questions or make comments about this. This was then Mariaan’s indicator that the door was open for her to explore more with them, as now they were interested in her process.
“Trying to communicate through a door that is shut and locked, dilutes and drowns out or even blocks the message. Wait till the person on the other side of the door opens it.”
Then in her conversations with her teenagers, she could respond to their questions, being mindful not to tell them what to do. This was unless they asked her for suggestions or her opinion. And if they did, then this was the time to share what her thoughts were, but only her opinion or suggestions.
In doing so, she would be sharing her process, which is not theirs. Also, even more powerfully, she could then ask them questions for them to discover in themselves the answers that she had discovered for herself. The power of this type of interaction comes from her teenagers discovering what they know and taking ownership of it, rather than them being told.
This is a facilitative approach.
WHAT IS FACILITATION?
As was described in the case of Mariaan’s situation, facilitation is an essential approach that can be applied in every situation and human interaction in your life.
Traditionally it has been seen as a tool to be used in business, in delivering training, meetings and with focus groups. However it is an approach that is not clearly understood and appreciated in its purest form.
Facilitation is a very powerful approach that can be utilized in parenting, relationships, friendships, coaching and mentoring. As well as training, teaching, meetings, leading, one on one conversations and interactions with anyone. And not to forget, an approach you can take with yourself – self-facilitation.
Facilitation is about process and processing. Having an awareness, insight, understanding and know-how of human processes and how to work with a process. As well as how to assist a person or group through their processing of the process.
WHAT IS A PROCESS?
A process is the natural way something operates, works and unfolds. In its natural form i.e. when it is not controlled and forced, the process of anything is random, fluid, transforming, and moving constantly. When a process is blocked, it is because something is stopping it and controlling it. This is when a facilitator is valuable, to guide the people to unblock their own process.
So in the case of humans, you have processes operating within you such as your emotional, mental, physiological, energy and physical processes. When you hold on to and try to suppress any of these areas, like blinking back tears, you block the natural process. You block your movement forward, due to your processing being stuck, in the process.
You also have processes operating on the outside of you, including your interactions with others, group dynamics, conversations and more. These processes can be blocked by peoples issues with one another, resistance, lack of understanding, lack of awareness and more.
The process is as the journey to an outcome, conclusion, realization and or pausing point, before the process transforms into a new process or moves to a different place. It is the steps and flow of something. How something moves to where it goes to.
Processing is what you experience internally in your thoughts and feelings in response to the process.
WHAT IS A FACILITATOR?
A facilitator is a process expert who has a deep understanding and appreciation of processing in the process. To be a true facilitator understanding your own process emotionally, mentally, sensory, physiologically, physically and energy wise, knowing what is happening for you, why, where it comes from and trusting your process is imperative, for a number of reasons:
- In order to understand and facilitate other individuals or groups process and processing, you need to understand your own and know how to self-facilitate, otherwise you do not have personal reference point of understanding what works and what does not.
- In understanding your own process, you gain insight into how people process and operate, what processing they can experience and why. This builds a foundation from which to develop your understanding of the approaches, styles and processing that are different to and similar to you, so that you understand people.
- In being able to self-facilitate and manage your own process and processing you will know how to facilitate other peoples processes and processing. You will also come to understand that it is important you maintain neutrality so that you do not influence the individual or groups process (as was evidenced in Mariaan’s initial approach with her teenagers) so that you are can support and work with the other persons process.
WHAT IS FACILITATION?
The Webster Dictionary defines the word facilitate as “to make easier” or “the process of making something easier or less difficult”. Facilitation is:
- An approach for stimulating people to take responsibility for what they think, say and do. It enables them to discover more about themselves, raise their awareness of their processing and assist them to be more conscious in the choices they make which enhances their level of influence over their lives.
- The process of raising the awareness of individuals and or groups as to what they are doing, why they are doing it, how they can change it and what they do know. Whilst encouraging them to take responsibility for themselves and the actions that they will take to bring about the changes that will benefit themselves, the group, their relationships and or home and work environment.
- The process of asking questions to support the exploration of persons process and processing.
- The process of self-discovery and encouraging self-responsibility.
- Making it easier for people to make progress in the process.
- Walking beside another person or people to support them to discover and uncover what they know, and what they what they want to do about it, through creating an environment and utilizing approaches that enable this to happen.
- Focus on another person’s or peoples process, whilst managing your own.
WHERE FACILITATION CAN BE APPLIED
As the title of this blog says “facilitation the essential approach for human interaction”. A facilitated approach can be taken in any human interaction you experience, including your interaction with yourself. It can be applied:
- In a conversation, in writing of a book, in an email or in a text.
- As a parent in one on one conversations, family conversations, issues between family members (both adult to child and child to child), exploring emotions, exploring situations and incidents and exploring great things that have happened.
- As a leader, trainer and or employee in one on one discussions, meetings, general conversations, training, performance reviews and any other interaction with employees or fellow leaders and managers.
- As a friend, in exploring emotions, situations, relationships, conflicts and any other context.
- With yourself, in exploring your emotional, mental, physical, sensing, physiological and energy processing.
WHY USE A FACILITATION APPROACH?
AS A PARENT
For The Child
- To create a space for a child to explore what is happening for them, without judgement, expectation or influence from any other process so they can share and understand themselves.
- So they can process out and through what they are feeling, thinking, experiencing, sensing and knowing to get clearer on what is right for them.
- So that they are able to take responsibility for themselves and be accountable to themselves.
- So that they are able to find the answers they have within themselves, and develop their awareness of who they are, why they feel like they do, why they do and say what they do and say and so that they build their confidence in knowing and trusting themselves.
For The Parent
- For the parent to put aside their own process and be fully with their child in understanding them without judgement or expectations. Where they ask questions TO UNDERSTAND (this must be the only intention, otherwise you are imposing your process on the child and they will process based on your influence, instead of what is natural and right for them) their child and see and hear the child’s processing through their eyes.
- For the parent to let go responsibility for having to have all the answers, and to empower their child to find the answers within them.
For The Family
- To build transparency, support and understanding. When you facilitate you understand, accept and love a person.
AS A LEADER
For The Employee
- To create a powerful place of self reflection, personal growth and understanding for an employee. So that an employee can own what is happening with them without judgement or expectations and take responsibility for what they have done or not done and what they will do or not do.
- For an employee to be more confident and responsible for taking responsibility for their decisions, actions and being accountable for them.
For The Leader
- To hear the persons process and gain insight and understanding, to support decision making and interaction with the individual or group.
- To encourage further exploration of ideas, situations, issues, areas for development and things that are working well.
- So that you are not holding responsibility for the individual or groups growth.
For The Organization
- Development of a transparent culture where people are responsible, accountable, and able to take ownership of and for their feelings, thoughts and actions.
- Greater creativity, contribution of ideas, innovation and the unleashing of potential.
WITH YOURSELF – Self facilitation
- Being able to self-facilitate your own process and processing enables you to take your personal power back. What I mean by this is you are able to take greater responsibility for what you think, feel, say, do, hear, sense and know, this then supports you to be more conscious as to the choices you make so you influence the outcomes in your life more powerfully.
- You are less dependent on other people for your emotional well-being.
- You require less reassurance from others, because you have the confidence and capability to explore and understand your own process and processing, which requires less need for reassurance.
- You know you and what is happening for you, why and what you can do about it.
- You trust yourself, your process and the process of your life