Facilitation is a process in which a neutral person, the facilitator, helps a group work together more effectively. It is particularly helpful in those situations where there are members or factions of members within the membership having divergent goals and ideas as to how decisions will be made, what protocols, procedures or methods of operations will be utilized to implement those decisions, and who will have responsibility to carry them out. More often than not, group meetings under such circumstances can become highly contentious and acrimonious with some members asserting opposing, intractable positions. When this happens, little or no progress is made. The meeting produces no positive results and can be detrimental to achieving the object or purpose for which it was formed.

This is not uncommon in groups such as corporate boards of directors; condominium associations; directors and members of non-profit organizations, including churches; auxiliaries; and the like.

When facilitating a group meeting, the facilitator can assist the group in setting an agenda and the order of discussion of agenda items so as to promote an orderly manner for proceeding. The facilitator can also help establish ground rules for behavior of the members during discussions, such as no interruptions, displaying courtesy and civility to one another, the length of time a person may have the floor, no accusations, and such other matters that are important to maintain a proper decorum for the orderly progression of the meeting.

An important role of the facilitator is to help maintain order when one or more members are “out of order”. The facilitator can also manage communications by keeping the discussion on track if it becomes tangential, repetitive, argumentative or acrimonious.

An additional role of the facilitator is to help members clarify issues or proposals that are being misunderstood, and to help members generate options that might be acceptable to everyone to resolve a conflict.

Besides assisting at meetings, a facilitator can work separately with individual members or different factions of members in an effort to “consensus build” in order to bring everyone together. This is particularly helpful when group meetings are ineffective or unproductive.

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