As a facilitator, you never know what may be happening in the lives of the people who are participating in your team or coalition meeting. They may be feeling completely overwhelmed, may have just found out about a promotion or they may have just been told their budget was cut again. One of the important roles of a facilitator is to bring out the best in others – and to show empathy when your team members are struggling to give their best. How do we do this? Join me as we consider three ways that you can bring out the best in others when facilitating a meeting.
- Believe the best. One of the best ways to bring out the best in others is to believe the best in others. If you come to the meeting assuming that everyone there is ready to contribute, show respect, understand one another and work together in order to address complex challenges, then you are likely to bring out the best in them. Alternatively, if you come to the meeting with preconceptions about members of the group and you are just waiting for one or more people to derail the meeting and create contention, then it will be more challenging to bring out the best in them. I know this can be very difficult because we all have people in our coalitions and partnerships who can be difficult to facilitate because they are very focused on their own agenda; however, I challenge you (and myself) to try to believe the best in them and the rest of your team so that you can genuinely bring out the best. This will make a tremendous difference in your ability to help your team work together well.
- Be encouraging. When facilitating a group, consider ways to be genuinely encouraging when people are willing to share ideas and feedback. Find ways to positively acknowledge their contributions and provide both verbal and non-verbal feedback that you appreciate their active participation. If you pose a question that initially results in lots of silence, give the group time to think and be sure to provide praise to the first person willing to share. If you receive negative feedback in a constructive and respectful manner, be sure to thank the person for their willingness to challenge the overall perspective in order to make a better decision for the group. When we are genuinely encouraging and willing to provide positive feedback for participation, we will bring out the best in others.
- Build on successes. We all have a tendency to think about what didn’t go well or what needs to be improved, but if we focus most of our thoughts and energy on what isn’t working, it will be very difficult to bring out the best in others. Most of my work has focused on cancer prevention and control and it’s really easy to get discouraged by all the ways we are not yet preventing cancers or detecting them early. We can get bogged down in our broken health care system and all the things that need to be improved in our communities in order to make a significant impact on health. If we come to our meetings focused on everything that isn’t working, it is difficult to bring out the best in others. We need to acknowledge the challenges; however, it’s really important to acknowledge the successes and build upon those successes. When facilitating a group, consider small successes as well as large ones – and be willing to talk about them. You can always get to the complex problems, but it sets a powerful tone when we begin with things we can celebrate. One of our pastors at church starts every team meeting with “celebrations” since the last time we met. It usually doesn’t take much time and only a few people share, but this is a fantastic way to bring out the best in others!
So what about you? How have you successfully been able to bring out the best in others when facilitating groups?
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