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Facilitating with Ease!, 4th Edition by Ingrid Bens

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Chapter SixCreating ParticipationThe logo depicting “Facilitation,” where three people are arranged in a circle.

Imagine yourself at the start of a meeting with a group of people you barely know and nothing is working. No one is answering questions. Some people look bored. Others seem openly uncomfortable. Everyone looks nervously at the leader whenever you ask a serious question. You start to wonder how you're going to get through the rest of the session!

Given the pressures of today's workplace, it would be naive to go into most meetings assuming that people will automatically be enthusiastic and engaged.

The first step in getting people to participate actively is to understand why they may be holding back. Consider these barriers to participation:

  • people may be tired from attending too many meetings
  • some participants may be exhausted from overwork
  • some members may be confused about the topic being discussed
  • there may be a lack of commitment to the topic of the meeting
  • some people may be insecure about speaking in front of others
  • talkative members may shut down quieter people
  • junior staff may be reluctant to speak up in front of those they consider to be their superiors
  • there may be a low level of trust and openness in the group
  • some traumatic event may have occurred recently that has left people feeling stressed or withdrawn
  • the organization may have a history of not listening to or supporting employee suggestions.

When planning any facilitation session, ...

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