The Electronic Discussion on
Group Facilitation
Process Expertise for Group Effectiveness
Moderator: Sandor P. Schuman



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Facilitator Competencies

From the Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation



- The Facilitator is effective in using core methods (distinguishes

  process from content)

- The Facilitator carefully manages the client relationship and

  prepares thoroughly (scoping)

- The Facilitator uses time and space intentionally

- The Facilitator is skillful in evoking participation and creativity

- The Facilitator is practiced in honoring the group and affirming

  its wisdom

- The Facilitator is capable of maintaining objectivity

- The Facilitator is skilled in reading the underlying dynamics of

  the group

- The Facilitator orchestrates the event drama

- The Facilitator releases blocks to the process

- The Facilitator is adroit in adapting to the changing situation

- The Facilitator assumes responsibility for the group journey

- The Facilitator can produce powerful documentation

- The Facilitator demonstrates professionalism, self-confidence,

  and authenticity

- The Facilitator maintains personal integrity



from the Institute of Cultural Affairs

One who is willing to commit to a style of

- "asking" rather than "telling."

- paying personal compliments.

- willing to spend time in building relationships rather than

  being always task-oriented.

- initiating conversation rather than waiting for someone else to.

- asking for other's opinions rather than always having to offer

  their own.

- negotiating rather than dictating decision-making.

- listening without interrupting.

- emoting but able to be restrained when the situation requires it.

- drawing energy from outside themselves rather than from within.

- basing decisions upon intuitions rather than having to have facts.

- has sufficient self-confidence that they can look someone in the

  eye when talking to them.

- more persuasive than sequential.

- more enthusiastic than systematic.

- more outgoing than serious.

- more like a coach than a scientist.

- more like a counselor than a sergeant.

- is naturally curious about people, things and life in general.

- can keep the big picture in mind while working on the nitty-gritty.

In the final analysis, anyone can be a facilitator who is willing to be

flexible and not bound by, a slave to, their natural social style.


Top Qualities of Facilitators



From isabel rimanoczy


1.To avoid the temptation of providing all answers to the


2.To stay attentive so as to capture the comments that showe

that participants aren't "walking the talk"

3.To point those moments, with tact and without offending

4.To bring humour in when climate gets tense

5. To resume findings




From Barbara Batson, ([email protected])


Self knowledge (strengths and weaknesses)

knowledge of audience (what they expect)

concern for quality (and being able to describe it)

ability to inspire (create a learning environment)

flexibility, versatility, (ability to switch gears at

the last moment)




From [email protected]


Here are five I go by in training our facilitators:


#1 - Organization Skills

#2 - Listening for understanding

#3 - Observing Nonverbal messages

#4 - Questioning (as opposed to telling) skills

#5 - Conceptual and Systemic Thinking (to put it all together)




From Glen Shull <[email protected]>


First 5 off the top of my head, some general, some specific.


1. Knowledge of content that fits desired outcomes.

2. Understanding of and skill with process of learning of their


3. Ability to maximize gaining of knowledge and skill in the

time avaiable

4. Observation and listening for opportunities and actualities

of learning.

5. Set up learning environment via posing problems, questions,

tools and other means to stir the mind and body to learn.




From Robert (Robin) A. Reid


In terms of the qualities of a top-notch facilitator, my top five

would all be about the individual as a human being, rather than

theory, technique and skills .... all of which can be taught.


Most desired qualities....

1.   Self-awareness...knowing how self impacts others

2.  Empathy ...the ability to see the situation as the other

sees it

3.  Acceptance ..  acceptace of others, able to hold a fellow

human being with unconditional positive regard

4.  Authentic and congruent ... eg walks his/her talk and is


5.  Open to self-growth and flexible about her/his learning

and how to do things.




From Frances Deverell <[email protected]>


1.  Ability to really listen and summarize what you have heard

from a non-judgemental place

2.  Ability to use out-going participants to get the discussion

rolling and then shut them down and make room for the quiet ones

3.  Ability to sense when a quiet person or an important person

has something to contribute

4.  Ability to pace the discussion and change the level of the

discussion at the appropriate time (from brainstorming to evaluation

to decision to action planning) (or from thinking to feeling)

5.  Ability to steer the group in a positive direction and to

help it pull out of a problem or salvage whatever degree of

agreement there may be so that the meeting can end on a positive

note with a sense of direction.




From CHANGE_THIS <[email protected]>


On the question of desirable facilitation behaviors here

are my top five.


1) Remaining neutral on issues.

2) Being an active listener.

3) Knowing how to ask questions.

4) Encouraging open communication.

5) Maintaining focus on the issues.




From Michele Whitmore ([email protected])


Before one can list the tope five qualities of a facilitator,

one would have to know the difference between training and

facilitation.  The responses posted to the list are the top

5 qualitities for training.


IMHO, training is a process whereby a trainer (who has subject

matter expertise, adult learning understanding, and presentation

skills) leads a group of trainees in acquiring new skills,

knowledge, or understanding. The methods used may be lecture,

video-based, computer-based, text-based, etc.  Usually, there

is some measureable outcome whether it is the performance of some

job skill or the acquisition of some information.


Facilitation is more of an art than a science.  I was in the

counselor ed program before switching to adult education.  I took

a course in group dynamics in which participation in a personal

growth group was required in order for us to experience and observe

the dynamics of the group and the skillful facilitation of those

dynamics.  I have also participated in several large group

awareness trainings in which I observed the art of facilitation.


Where training involves telling and teaching the participants -

facilitation involves helping the participants discover for

themselves. A facilitator must be able to read not only individuals,

but interaction between individuals, and the subtleties of group

dynamics.  If the goal is to help a group become a team, the

facilitator's  job is to observe, give feedback, and ask questions

that will lead to insight.  If the learning that is to take place

involves experiential exercises, the facilitator helps the

participants process their experience, to clarify what they have

gained from the experience and to help them gain additional insight

from how others in the group may have experienced the same exercise.

The facilitator notices what is NOT said as well as what is said and

points it out to the group.  The facilitator notices patterns in group

interaction and brings it up to the group for exploration.


Wow!  Can't believe I have gone on so long.  Training generally

involves the transmission of skills or knowledge.  Facilitation

often involves the softer side of human emotion, psychology, and





From Tim Dixon


effective listener

asks provocative questions

great insight into interpersonal dynamics






From [email protected]


The biggest difference between training and facilitating is

the difference in the ratio of learner involvement vs. trainer

involvement.  A good facilitator's only job is to get the

participants to come up with questions and answers.  As for

the top 5 qualities of a facilitator:


Good questioning skills

Knowing how to stay out of the way or keep their mouth shut

Keeping the discussion on track

Creating constructive conflict

Feedback skills


are a few that I can think of...




From: [email protected] (CPFarley)

 What are the five qualites you would say are absolutely essential in a

 top-notch facilitator?


 --  Objectivity/neutrality (no vested interest in one solution over


 --  Understanding and experience in a wide variety of facilitation

 techniques (starting with braistorming)

 --  Charisma

 --  Empathy




From: [email protected]


Here's my quick and simple top 3 items:

1. Listening, listening, listening.

2. Caring, caring, caring.

3. And some neat stuff around group dynamics.




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