Facilitation

by Steve Roche

Objectivity

Maintaining objectivity can be tough, especially if you are part of the relevant work area.

It helps to accept that you can have your own feelings about the situation, and you may well be right. But as a facilitator your job is about helping other people come to their own decisions, so although you may not feel totally objective you must be able to demonstrate objectivity.

Example

Perhaps a heated debate starts up about staffing levels.

One person or group says,

‘This project is impossible unless we get more people in.’

And the other says,

‘No, we simply need to properly manage the people we do have.’

Inside you think,

‘I couldn’t agree more: if only managers did their job, we wouldn’t have this problem in the first place.’

As a facilitator, while you have every right to your opinion, your thoughts and feelings need to be put to one side.

One good way to do this is to listen carefully to what is being said and reflect back what you just heard:

‘So what I’m hearing is that you think the problem is essentially one of insufficient resources being available.’

And to the other side:

‘What I’m hearing on the other hand is that you feel the problem is not one of numbers, but with the way resources are handled.’

This way, you demonstrate that you hear both sides, which establishes you as a neutral observer. Imagine yourself slightly distanced or dissociated from what’s going on, so you can observe the dynamic.

It’s hard for people to keep an open mind when they feel really strongly about something. By keeping an open mind yourself, you become a model of effective behaviour and other people can’t help but see that. This will help calm people down, which will enable them to see there is more than one way to do things.