At World in Conversation, our facilitators are constantly reflecting upon their work and refining their facilitation. We believe it is important to communicate with others Facilitator Findings, anecdotes shared by facilitators themselves that illustrate moments of pride and success in their work and self-growth. We hope this Facilitator Finding enables you to get a better sense of the journey and work of a World in Conversation facilitator.
At World in Conversation, we work to ensure that the atmosphere of a conversation is open enough for participants to express any of their views. We have different ways of working towards this goal. In this Facilitator Finding, Haydn shares how she is working to ensure the atmosphere of the dialogue supports the participants so that they can better understand each other:
“I have been working on being more assertive in my facilitation when it comes to the group dynamics of a conversation. For example, recently I was facilitating a group and a white male shared that he felt that he is the most discriminated against. The other participants immediately began asking him questions, and as he tried to quickly answer all of these one after another, he began to get defensive.” In this moment, Haydn tried to ensure that the white male’s opinion was welcomed while also responding to the reactions of the other participants in the group. “I stopped the group and said, ‘It seems like you really care about this. So I am going to stop you and stop everyone else.’” Haydn’s facilitation enabled the following: “He stopped trying to answer everyone’s questions all at once and the other people in the group started asking questions that helped us all unpack the different levels of where and how discrimination occurs. People started working together to understand each other.”
Haydn shared that being assertive, in this case stopping the conversation, is something she has been working on because it can feel risky or different. “I think a lot of what I do is ask questions and reflect what I am hearing from individuals, but that does not necessarily translate to being assertive.” By being assertive and stopping the process of the conversation, Haydn made it more possible for the participants in the group to try to understand each other rather than just react to each other. There is a fine line when as a facilitator, you decide to be assertive. Haydn stated, “I don’t want to tell people how to think or what to think. My goal is to help them examine why they think what they think.”
This is a picture of Haydn on Masada in Israel wearing her WinC shirt. “Trying to have open conversation on birthright was a serious test of my facilitation skills, and I found myself trying to be assertive on that trip as well. I look really happy in this picture; I am really happy that during this second semester as a facilitator, I have gotten a lot better at facilitation. I have come into my own a lot more.”