Facilitation Meetup @ The Hive

Meetup

/miːtʌp/

noun

1.    A meeting, especially a regular meeting of people who share a particular interest and have connected with each other through a social-networking website

When I first heard of such a meetup, I was quite curious as I was unsure what goes on in a meetup. I began waiting for a meetup being publicized in the FB Group with a topic that I was interested to explore further. So when the Facilitation Meetup at The Hive came by, I took the opportunity to go for it with Allan and Zhao Jing, as I have much interest in exploring more facilitation techniques and how to improve further.

The first thing we did in the meetup was to introduce ourselves. It is quite interesting to see such a diverse group of people, with one who was from Africa.

We went straight into the topic for that night: How does a facilitator manage a group with difficult dynamics.

Define “Difficult Dynamics”

In a group, there are many different kinds of personalities that a person will need to take note of. The way the participants interact and behave can have different impacts on the group’s dynamics and how the conversation will be carried. Some may contribute meaningful inputs to allow the conversation to flow, while others may show certain behaviours and traits which can bring about difficult dynamics to the group. Examples of difficult dynamics are a lack of respect and trust, sense of indifference, using intimacy as a weapon of exploitation, irresolvable differences (if the participants know one another before the conversation), and different cultures. When such difficult dynamics appears in the group and not dispelled, it can impede the progress of the group’s conversation, and a lack of growth in the participants’ understanding and relationship with one another, especially if participants are meeting for the first time. Thus, it is up to the facilitator to spot such difficult dynamics in its early stages and manage them before they control the group.

How does one tell the current stage of the group’s dynamics?

This can be done using Keegan’s Stages of Consciousness. Keegan saw the process of development as an effort to resolve the tension between a desire for differentiation and an equally powerful desire to be immersed in one’s surroundings, which in this case, would be how each person will develop his/her temporary personality in the group setting, which, when put together, can show a group’s stage of consciousness and its impact.

To put it simply, the 5 stages of consciousness can be said as such:

Reflex – No self formed in the group yet
Conscious Effort – Shows uneasiness

– Reacting immediately to different situations with minimum control

Socialisation – Aware of the group’s responses

– Takes note of how group behaves and match them.

Individualisation – Disassociation from socialization to become unique (disengagement)

– The person becomes his own individual in the group, on the persona he/she intends to take up and be more ready to share and possibly defend his/her opinions

Transcendence – Group having understanding of both sides of the coin of the conversation

For the group to evolve from one stage to another, they will need to reject the current stage they are in.

How does a facilitator manage the difficult dynamics in the group?

The objective of the model is to use the stages to play within the group and for the group to become harmonious to hit the objective. As a facilitator, knowing which stage the group is in can help the group to evolve to the next stage, through manipulating the group’s dynamics for them to transit from one stage to another. As such, if the facilitator does not serve any of the difficult dynamics in the group, he will never hit the objective of the conversation.

A facilitator can manage the stage the group is in through the following ways:

1. Addressing their NEEDS: make sure that you are aware of each participants’ needs so that they can achieve it at the end of the conversation.

2. Exerting your LEADER role in the group: make your presence known to the group at the start of the conversation for everyone to recognize and respect you as a facilitator. This is especially useful if the group has a dominant group leader (Vice President of the company) as one of the participants. This can increase the safety of sharing opinions for everyone.

3. RECOGNISE UNIQUENESS of each individual: recognize that the opinions that each person possess is part of the truth. If you have a bias, own it, and raise it up to the group. Ask those with opposite ideals to share their perspectives.

What were the learning methods used in the Facilitation Meetup?

Throughout the meetup, we did discussions and also role-play, which helped everyone to further understanding of the Stages of Consciousness, and how does one manage the group’s dynamics based on the different opinions and personalities that each group member had. We left the meetup with new friends made and much discoveries uncovered.

My final thoughts

I have really enjoyed the meetup as I gained much insight on how to facilitate a group that may not have the best dynamics due to clashing personalities and opinions. This will be very useful in managing different groups of people at work and my personal commitments as well. I highly recommend such meetups if you want to explore your personal interests and gain more knowledge that is hard to learn from books and online resources alone, as some experiences is best gained with interacting with like-minded individuals with varying levels of knowledge on the subject.

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