Facilitating…the art of making a task easier.

Posts tagged ‘facilitation’

Dealing With Difficult People – Why Do They Act Like That?

DifficultPeopleYou have seen them. They are the people that always have a different opinion. They know the ONLY way to do something. They don’t want to even consider another way. We have all worked with them. Everyone wants to know how do we deal with that type of person?

Before you can deal with that type of person, you need to look at why do they take that hard stance? What is it that makes them feel that they are right?
Generally, people take a difficult stance for one or more of the following reasons:

1. They experienced a similar situation before that was not successful and are convinced this will not be successful either so why are you wasting my time.
2. They don’t have enough “context” information to see the big picture. Their scope of knowledge is only a portion of the entire problem, situation or project.
3. They may have some personal issues that they are dealing with that prevent them from fully participating.
4. They are afraid that they will appear weak among their peers and reports. They have a need to always be right.
5. They are afraid of failure. If you don’t do it my way it won’t work and then I will be responsible anyway.

These are just a few of the real reasons that people behave in a difficult manner. I believe there are underlying issues for most people when they behave in this way. Your meetings need to be structured to mitigate these behaviors. You may not be able to prevent them all but you can certainly start to establish a process to reduce them. Here are just a few suggestions.

1. Be sure that the people you have in the meeting are there for a reason. Don’t invite everyone. Invite only those that need to participate. If you have a group of people that simply need to be “in the know” send them a memo. Otherwise, you will be wasting time.
2. Let the group share what they feel the desired outcome of the meeting should be. What would they consider “success” of the meeting. Each person may have a totally different idea of why they are even at the meeting.
3. When you see bad behavior do something. Move around the room, go stand by the person who is having the side conversation. They will stop.
4. Be sure you have enough small group discussions built into the meeting so that they have a chance to share information with their neighbors.
5. Have a defined, interesting and engaging agenda and discussion. If the participants at the meeting are able to check their email while in the meeting, you have room to improve your meeting and agenda planning. Participants should not be interested in checking their email ( unless they are on call or in need) and should be drawn to the meeting. They should know that they are a part of the meeting and their voices and input is important.

One of skills that is growing in demand is “facilitation” skills. To be adapt at designing and facilitating meetings takes training and research. ICA-USA and ICA-Associates, Canada have spent decades developing facilitation training based on successful implementation of those methods. Consider taking one of the two upcoming classes offered by ICA-USA and ICA-Canada. ICA-USA ToP TM Facilitation Methods will show you two methods (Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop) and one process ( Action Planning). The ICA-Canada class will show you how to determine the “right” people to have in the room, develop agendas, room set up, flip chart tips , 72 activities to use in your meetings and how to deal with difficult people.

Here are the links to the 2 Florida classes. Each of them are a 2 day workshop.

* Top Facilitation Methods – ICA – USA, http://bit.ly/1Udds20
* Making Meetings Work – ICA – Associates http://bit.ly/2aCt5iL

What is ToP Facilitation?

Technology of Participation from Youth Empowerment Studios on Vimeo.

Sign up for the October 20-21st, 2015  ToP Facilitation Methods in Orlando, Fl.

Do you belong to the Association of the Miserable?

Complaining is easy.  Negaticomplainve conversation is the easiest for most people. (1) . Sometimes the first reaction to any conversation is the adversarial opinion. Why?

Why do we automatically do that? Is it because we don’t agree with what is being said? Or is it we truly don’t care about what is being said and it is way to halt the conversation? Do we want to be last heard and first remembered?

I used to find myself doing that on occasion. Okay – more than on occasion. At least that is how I used to be. I have changed my thoughts process and you can too.

Allow me to share my “before and after”, as an example for you.

Here is the scenario: A friend tells me that they are getting a dog.

My internal thoughts before:
Why would they want to get a dog. It is a lot of work and will pee on the floor, poop on their shoes and cost them a lot of money. Just when they get used to and attached to the dog, it will get hit by a car and then they will be sad. Why would anyone want a dog?

You can see that I used to belong to the “Association of the Miserable”.

My new internal thoughts are:
The dog will be a lucky dog because they have a nice back yard for the dog. The dog will be able to sleep in the house with the kids. I myself would not want a dog. If I did have the perfect dog, it would be fun to take it on walks. They will enjoy taking the dog on walks, petting it and sharing it with their friends and family. The dog will give them joy in their life. Maybe they need something in their life that is always happy and forgiving. Maybe I will get their dog a “welcome home” doggy present. I always have liked going in to the dog store and now I have a real reason to shop there.

What would happen to the world, your neighborhood, school or just your family if you could change how you think? Change how you process information. It is possible, and not all that hard!

Learn this method of Focused Conversations along with ways to build consensus and action planning in the ToP Facilitation Methods 2 day class in Orlando, October 9-10, 2014.  Tell someone that you know belongs to the “Association of the Miserable”.   Sign up at www.ToPFlorida.org

#focusedconversation #ICA #ToPMethods

(1) The Art of Focused Conversation, Brian Stanfield, for the Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs

Getting above your clouds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is always bumpy until you get above the clouds…..How can you get above your clouds?

As I look out the window of the plane, I imagine the clouds are my “obstacles”. Getting above the clouds insures a smoother flight and a more pleasant journey to my destination.   But getting above the clouds means you, like a pilot,  have to plan the most direct path that makes the time most efficient, fewer bumps and air pockets. I liken this journey to my life in general.

As you do, I have too many things to do.   The next great idea is always being added to my list. Tasks that are fun always want to inch their way to the top of the list. Items that seem daunting find their way to the bottom, and yet, they may be the most important. It isn’t that I don’t know what my ultimate goal is, it is just that the “clouds” get in the way.

How is your life’s “to – do” list? Is it filled with the things you most desire yet are farthest from accomplishing? Does the daily life get in the way of living?

This daily challenge of getting done what is “next” keeps us from doing what should be “first”. We don’t even take time to identify what would be the smartest, most efficient item that leads us to our goal in life. We are just too busy.

If you examined your life goals and learned how to navigate around, through and over the clouds, how would your life be? Would it be more fulfilling? Would you feel like you were gaining ground towards your ultimate goal? Despite the daily grind you would feel that little bit of progress that keeps you gaining altitude?

Join me in a one hour free webinar to explore getting thru the clouds. We will do a brief overview of our flight plan, determine the best flight path to your ultimate goal and how to gain a little altitude daily and break thru the clouds. Bring your goal to this meeting and we will together develop a flight plan.

Sign up today for the one hour webinar,  and share this with your friends.

Can’t make the live webinar, no worries, email me  and we will let you know when the recorded version is ready.

#ToPMethods  #ICA   #Facilitation  #ActionPlanning

A Focused Conversation with myself.

cartoon-airplaneI despise flying, but in order to accomplish my goals and responsibilities, I have no choice. Sometimes I swear that this is the last time I am going to fly, but I guess it is like childbirth.   Afterwards you forget.

Now that I have discovered the ToP Methods and Focused Conversation, my flying is much more tolerable. I used to hear voices like, “why are you here, you know you don’t like flying, you should have went to work at Walmart like your mother told you, you will never get to your destination, you should have driven, and on and on and on.”

My new self talk goes more like this!

Yes, I am on a flight that is a little bumpy.   There are lots of other people on this flight.   We are all going to the same location separately together.

The last 10 times I flew it was bumpy too.   There are not too many flights that are not bumpy.

I get nervous when the flight is bumpy. I feel helpless because I don’t know how long the pilot has been flying or if he is sleeping up there. I think every flight should be smooth with no bumps.

Instead of getting nervous about something I have no control over, I will practice my meditation techniques and slow breathing. I will try and laugh about the fact that I know there is more likelihood that someone will die of a heart attack worrying about the plane than there is getting injured during the flight. I will remember that the air is not empty and it is full of pockets of different types of air. I will remember how much worse I hate riding in a car!

You have just experienced an ORID structured conversation with myself.   Self talk that is taking it from a potential hysterical down spiral to a facilitated reasonable conversation with a direction that I can work on.

To learn how to use these conversations at work, home or alone, sign up for a Technology of Participation Facilitation Methods. You can find the classes at the  TopTraining website.   in fact, if you want to combine a class with a trip to Orlando, there is class on October 9- 10th in Orlando.

See you at the airport!


Magic Whiteboard on a rollDon’t you love it when you discover a tool that is so awesome that you wish you had invented it?  One of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments?

Recently I was asked to facilitate a half day meeting in a room that I was not familiar with.  As we all know, when you ask someone, “do you have white boards”, they can answer yes, but it still may not fill your requirements.   To some people a white board could be 8” x 11” or  8’ x 11’.    I thought, why can’t I bring my own whiteboards?  Isn’t there a way to transport them in my car?   Low and behold, there is!

Magic Whiteboard on a roll!   Magic Whiteboard is similar to a cling wrap that you would cover your food with. It comes in a box and sheets are pre-perforated for easy tearing.   When you tear them apart, they do not stretch out of shape or tear.  The sheets are a milky white and about twice the thickness of cling wrap.

Being the skeptic that I am, I had to test their “clinginess”.   I took one of the sheets and wrote with the marker that they provided for free and placed the sheet on a painted wall.  It stuck perfectly.  All of the sheet had contact with the wall.   Of course, I also need to test to see if it would stick on my sound proof carpeted wall.  It actually stuck there too!   I placed this “test sheet” on my painted wall and left it up for 2 weeks.  It never budged an inch.  I am sold on this product.

Not only do they produce a great product, but the customer service is outstanding.  In your order, you get a little note from the crew that packaged your product.   It is promptly shipped and well worth the cost.

Being unsure if my favorite wipe erase markers would work, I also ordered the markers that they sell on their website.  It was not necessary, as regular wipe – erase worked just fine.

A good facilitator is ready for any type of meeting opportunity.  I keep a spare box of whiteboard now in my office for those last minute requests.  Here is the link if you want to order a box for yourself.


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