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TRANSFORMING CONFLICT & COLLABORATION Laurie L. Mulvey, Sheffy Minnick and Michelle Frisby Illustrations by Simonida Nedeljković


TRANSFORMING CONFLICT & COLLABORATION Laurie L. Mulvey, Sheffy Minnick and Michelle Frisby Illustrations by Simonida Nedeljković


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercialNoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You are free to Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format. The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow OUR LICENSE TERMS. Book design: michaelblack | BLACK SUNŽ


The following people have been integral to the creation and revision of this book: David Holloway, Lisa Dribin, Sam Richards, Danna Jayne Seballos, Brenton Joo Mitchell, Sarah Chelius, Eric Spielvogel, Serge DaDeppo, Tim Taylor, Takkeem Morgan, Carly Cubit, Rick Miller, Abeer Al-Yazji, Renata Rincon, Yuli Prieto, Amalia Shaltiel, Ray Mulvey, Sean Minnick, Greg Frisby, Lisa Thiry, A.J. Wagner, michael black, Mahdi Jafari and the many students we have worked with at Penn State University.


Introduction

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Part One: The Facilitator

15

Part Two: Facilitator Mindset

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2.1: A Story 2.2: Conflict 2.3: Collaboration 2.4: Paradox Facilitation Mindset

41 63 123 193 249

Part Three: Communication Practices of a Facilitator 3.1: Socratic Inquiry 3.2: Taking All Sides 3.3: Open-Ended Questions 3.4: Active Reflective Listening 3.5: Disrupting Communication Patterns

Part Four: Transformation and What’s Possible

255 269 335 371 457 521

639


Introduction Dialogue facilitation is a lot more than moderating a conversation. Dialogue facilitation requires facing fear with understanding, building trust in relationships where there is no trust, and inviting authenticity and complexity where simplicity and certainty are often preferred. It also requires uniting real people with real issues, minds with hearts, and enemies with one another. A good facilitator, like a good traffic cop, takes the chaos of passions and perspectives and helps participants to create an underlying order together. All of this is an essential piece of the well-being of people and communities. We keep meeting people all around the globe who ask us how to become a facilitator. So we’ve spent several years writing and rewriting this book, testing out the material with students and colleagues, and developing illustrations, all so that the ideas can be translated and understood easily in different languages. And we are sharing it free of charge because our goal is for as many people to benefit from it as possible. We also know that what’s more important than reading this book is what you do with it.


Out beyond ideas of Wrongdoing and Rightdoing There is a field. I’ll meet you there. - Rumi


Part One The Facilitator


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• The Facilitator


Have you ever met a doctor? Have you ever seen a doctor at work? Have you ever heard anyone say, “When I grow up I want to be a doctor”? ...most likely.

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Now imagine— that you didn’t know anything about doctors and you broke a bone in a bike accident.

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• The Facilitator


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You would probably think your only option was to take care of the injury on your own.

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• The Facilitator


Sounds silly, right?

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Thankfully, we live in a world where we know doctors exist and we know how they can help.

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• The Facilitator


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But...

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• The Facilitator


Have you ever met a dialogue facilitator? Have you ever seen a dialogue facilitator at work? Have you ever heard anyone say, “When I grow up I want to be a dialogue facilitator”? ...probably not.

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• The Facilitator


Unfortunately, when human communication breaks down, when we are in the middle of a conflict that we can’t resolve, and when our relationships become unhealthy,

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• The Facilitator


most of us tend to think our only option is to “live with it”—

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because we have no idea there are people who are trained to help in these situations.

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• The Facilitator


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There are so many times when we need dialogue facilitators...

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• The Facilitator


just like we need medical doctors.

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That’s why we’re glad you decided to read this book—

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• The Facilitator


to learn what dialogue facilitators do.

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Then perhaps we can add YOU to the growing list of dialogue facilitators on the planet.

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• The Facilitator


So let’s get started!

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Part Two The Facilitator


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• Facilitator Mindset [A Story]


A Story

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• Facilitator Mindset [A Story]


Let us bring you into a story.

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This is an ancient story.

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• Facilitator Mindset [A Story]


It is a story of clashing and misunderstanding.

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This story begins with two forces—

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• Facilitator Mindset [A Story]


two forces that have universal power and influence, two forces that profoundly impact our world, two forces that shape each of us.

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These forces are both invisible and well-known.

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• Facilitator Mindset [A Story]


These forces are...

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Conflict

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and Collaboration

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Conflict and Collaboration shape our past, present, and future. They shape nations, families and individuals.

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• Facilitator Mindset [A Story]


And guess what? This is where YOU could enter the story...

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because a facilitator works closely with these powerful forces. A facilitator helps to shift and direct these forces.

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In fact, if there is one thing a facilitator knows better than anything else, it is...

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• Facilitator Mindset [A Story]


Conflict and Collaboration. (Okay, there are two things.)

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Facilitators are willing to get close to Conflict and Collaboration because they know how essential these forces are—

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• Facilitator Mindset [A Story]


to innovation and change, to health and well-being, and to Life itself.

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It’s okay if you don’t see all that yet. You will.

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• Facilitator Mindset [A Story]


For now, let’s continue with the story.

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Conflict

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First, let’s get to know Conflict.

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What feelings arise when you encounter Conflict?

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Maybe you feel: Anger Pain Defensiveness Vulnerability Powerlessness Threat Fear Intimidation Isolation Division Competition

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


These feelings are common responses; however, they keep us in an uncomfortable relationship with Conflict.

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But there is good news—

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Conflict itself is not what actually leads to those feelings. “Then what does?” you must be asking.

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It is Combat,

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


the more extreme and less constructive “cousin” of Conflict.

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Anger Pain Defensiveness Vulnerability Powerlessness Threat Fear Intimidation Isolation

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


are actually responses to Combat— a force that attempts to repress or eliminate differences.

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Conflict is simply— an encounter between alternative ways or contrasting perspectives. Period.

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Conflict itself contains no threat or demand. But somehow, Conflict has gotten a negative reputation.

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Thankfully, facilitators can help.

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Facilitators know: Conflict is an encounter with something dierent.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


Different views. Different suggestions. Different opinions. Different experiences. Simply different.

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Combat is the attempt to repress or eliminate those dierences.

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Can you see the difference?

Conflict: an encounter with differences

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


Combat: the struggle to eliminate those dierences

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Now here’s the thing...

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Although Conflict and Combat are dierent, a facilitator needs to know something else about these forces:

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Combat is often a result—of denying, ignoring or repressing Conflict.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


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In other words, when we turn away from Conflict (as so many of us do),

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


we are actually creating the conditions for Combat.

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Of course, turning away from Conflict is usually based on our best intentions— to be non-judgemental, to keep peace, to accept other people.

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But these “good intentions” are not constructive because they are often based on Fear— which distorts what we see.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


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And so we usually mistake CONFLICT (an encounter between different perspectives)

for COMBAT (the struggle to eliminate those different perspectives).

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We will say it again: Our underlying Fear often makes (non-threatening) Conflict appear to be Combat (which feels threatening).

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


And that innocent mistake is like the moment we fall and break a bone: We’re going to need help. We just don’t usually know that.

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Enter a facilitator who knows:

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


Conflict itself is a benign force. Conflict is a simple indicator of dierence. Conflict is nothing to Fear.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


Rather than seeing Conflict through the lens of Fear...

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


a facilitator sees Conflict with curiosity— through the lens of Discovery.

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This lens allows facilitators to see Conflict for what it is, and to trust that these dierences matter (in a good way).

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And because facilitators learn to trust Conflict, they approach it as an ally.

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And they relate to Conflict with the desire to listen to its important messages.

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Think of the last time you faced Conflict. What could you have tried to hear, to learn, to notice? What could you have Discovered if you didn’t turn away?

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


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This is a lot to digest. So here’s what we’re saying so far:

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Conflict is an encounter between differences.

Combat is the struggle to eliminate those differences.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


Fear actually pushes us away from Conflict, and toward Combat. Discovery invites us toward Conflict, and away from Combat.

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And, in the presence of Conflict, a facilitator operates with the fearless mindset of Discovery.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Conflict]


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Collaboration

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


Now that you’ve had some time to get to know Conflict, let’s explore the other force in our story— Collaboration.

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First, let’s think about what’s essential to projects, relationships or moments that are “collaborative.”

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Perhaps it’s: Teamwork Support Unity Creativity Sharing Partnership Harmony Agreement Belonging Friendship These qualities are probably a lot more appealing...

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


than the ones you may have associated with Conflict.

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BUT, here’s the thing:

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


This list is incomplete.

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What about? Objection Resistance Divergence Dissonance Disagreement Dissatisfaction Dissent Critique Hesitation Doubt Disapproval Questioning

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Without the presence of experiences like these, Collaboration is more of an illusion than a reality. (We’ll tell you why later. But follow us for a moment.)

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And if you have lived or worked closely with other people without disagreement or dissatisfaction,

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


you have likely experienced this illusion of Collaboration.

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In this illusion of Collaboration, “togetherness” is more important than new or creative ideas.

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Think about these factors: Obligations Traditions Rules Laws Chains of command Standards Demands Needs for Acceptance even...Coercion

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They can help us work together, but they also prevent us from acting on our gut instincts and inspirations—and from sharing our different opinion or unique vision.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


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They also contribute to an underlying sense that “you have to do it this way or you don’t belong with us.”

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


We’re not sure what you call this kind of forced togetherness, but we call it Conformity— the more restrictive and less accepting “cousin” of Collaboration.

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Conformity can be really subtle, where it looks (and even feels) like “working together,” but it just doesn’t include our differences.

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And even though we may approach Collaboration with the desire for unity and teamwork,

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


we often fail when we encounter our basic dierences.

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So our groups usually end up in a place of Conformity, not Collaboration.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


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“Why?” you ask.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


Well, remember Fear?

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When we approach Collaboration with any Fear— which usually means not addressing basic differences— the outcome is Conformity.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


But how does this happen?

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When working together, we often Fear being dierent or not belonging. So we silence our voice to fit in.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


On the other hand, we may Fear losing control of our leadership, vision or independence. So we pressure others to follow us.

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Either way, we Fear disagreement. So we don’t address the disagreement.

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Sounds a lot like our Fear of Conflict, doesn’t it?

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But as you now know, facilitators don’t Fear disagreement.

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They Trust disagreement— because they know the value of Conflict. And they believe in the power of true Collaboration just like they believe in the power of true Conflict.

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Facilitators know what to do when Fear leads to the illusion of Collaboration.

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Remember the mindset of Discovery?

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A facilitator helps people to Discover their divergent perspectives so they can work together, without losing their individuality.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


This becomes TRUE Collaboration– where we create something new based on our different ways.

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An important sidenote:

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


There are also members of groups who say, “I don’t care about this.” “I don’t have a position.” Where do they fit in all of this?

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


Well, “not caring” or not having a stance is actually a stance.

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“Not caring” is a position that adds extra weight to things being “as they are”, and to maintaining the status quo, whatever that may be at the time.

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Whatever

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And while there is nothing essentially wrong with things being as they are, it is important for us to recognize that “not caring� maintains this.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


In other words, “not caring” is a stance that has influence and weight in relationships and in groups.

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So let’s summarize this part of our story.

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Collaboration is working with others while maintaining our divergent views. Conformity is going along with others because we feel pressure to agree.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


Fear pushes us away from Collaboration, and toward Conformity. Discovery invites us toward Collaboration, and away from Conformity.

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In the presence of Collaboration, a facilitator operates with the mindset of Discovery—skeptical of unquestioned agreement.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


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REMEMBER: A facilitator’s work is to move individuals away from Combat and Conformity and towards Conflict and Collaboration—

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• Facilitator Mindset [Collabortation]


to keep the forces of Conflict and Collaboration operating in a dynamic balance.

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And while a facilitator needs a mindset of Discovery to help do this, the whole process also requires Trust and the ability to embrace paradox. That’s where we’re headed next.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


Paradox

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Are you ready for an interesting, and seemingly contradictory, idea?

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


It is another key to this story— and to the mindset of a facilitator:

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Combat and Conformity are actually very SIMILAR forces.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


These forces appear to be opposites, appear to be at odds,

because they are at opposite ends of the fulcrum.

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But Combat and Conformity actually share very similar qualities.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


Can you name some?

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Here are a few:

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


Both create clear enemies and clear borders between “us and them.” It’s all about “us, us, us.” Both seek converts to “our way.” Both have clear positions on moral/ethical/ philosophical issues. Their mottos could be,“You are with us, or you are against us.” Both have little latitude for alternate views. Following is important for both.

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Paradoxical? Yes.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


But the ability to embrace paradox is actually the essence of the facilitator mindset.

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By embracing paradox, we can see that seemingly opposing activities like fighting a war (Combat) or following a movement (Conformity)

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


make little room for Discovery, can be driven by Fear,

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and in both cases, need to silence dierences.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


Interesting, right?

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So what is unique about Combat and Conformity?

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


Well… “our” voices are silenced in Conformity, while “their” voices are silenced in Combat.

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In other words— People don’t listen to themselves in Conformity and they don’t listen to others in Combat.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


And yes, this is exactly where a facilitator can be helpful.

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Because this is exactly where a mindset of Discovery is essential.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


A facilitator seeks to Discover unspoken and unheard perspectives. How exactly?

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Standing fearlessly in the presence of either Combat or Conformity, a facilitator invites individuals to voice their own perspectives

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


AND to listen to the perspectives of others.

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These acts of voicing and listening are imperative to restoring balance to unhealthy relationships.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


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And these acts of voicing and listening provide a foundation for building Trust between individuals—

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


and Trust in the forces of Conflict and Collaboration.

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So let’s return to the relationship between Conflict and Collaboration.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


This is core to the work of a facilitator.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


Collaboration is a force that creates a foundation for stability. Conflict is a force that creates a foundation for change.

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And we need both.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


Each plays a crucial role in ensuring that relationships are both stable and changing.

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So here’s another paradox for you: When people in Conflict listen to each other, Collaboration grows.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


And, when people in Collaboration express divergent views, Conflict grows.

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And remember, we want and require both. This is the essence of paradox.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


Conflict and Collaboration actually “need” each other to create a healthy, dynamic balance.

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And as long as this movement between these essential forces flows back and forth, over and over and over again,

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


we should see more healthy and more balanced relationships, ones that build a foundation of trust and allow for dierences.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


Believe it or not, you now have a picture of the mindset of a facilitator. Take a look‌

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Conflict

Trust supports (and reinforces) Conflict and Collaboration.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]

Collaboration


Combat

Conformity

Fear pushes us toward Combat and Conformity.

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To restore and maintain balance, a facilitator encourages listening when people are in Combat or Conflict and voicing when people are in Conformity or Collaboration.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


Combat

Listen Conformity

Voice

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This mindset needs to be activated in every space where these powerful forces appear (and are regularly misunderstood).

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


We humans don’t do this naturally.

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That’s why we need facilitators. It’s not just our bodies that we need to keep healthy; it’s our relationships too.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


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And if all of this is beginning to feel exciting...

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


you are DEVELOPING the mindset of a facilitator.

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A mindset open to paradox. A mindset of Discovery.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


A mindset to facilitate conversations that restore and maintain this necessary balance between Conflict and Collaboration. Here it is again‌

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When Fear pushes us toward Combat, a facilitator encourages listening in order to move toward healthy Conflict.

This process creates a foundation of Trust which su

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


When Fear pushes us toward Conformity, a facilitator encourages voicing in order to move toward healthy Collaboration.

upports (and reinforces) Conflict and Collaboration.

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


And with that, we leave our story...

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• Facilitator Mindset [Paradox]


but not our book! Next we’re going to share with you some key communication practices to help you put all of these concepts to use.

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Part Three Communication Practices of a Facilitator


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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator


Facilitators need more than a mindset to navigate Conflict and Collaboration.

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Facilitators need specific communication practices to help redirect and balance the way these forces operate between people.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator


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This section is about how a facilitator uses communication practices to apply their mindset to relationships that are out of balance.

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These practices will allow you to listen, to poke at people’s opinions, ideologies and positions, to push them to explore more nuanced views and to help enlarge their ability to think in grey areas.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator


Think Discovery.

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These practices will also help you to shift relationships away from the extremes of Combat and Conformity— and towards the more moderate forces of Conflict and Collaboration.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator


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Ready for the first one?

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator


Socractic Inquiry

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Socratic Inquiry]


Socratic Inquiry is the first step in moderating the forces of Combat and Conformity.

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Remember, people stuck in these extreme positions think about things according to the side they’ve chosen and behave like they have answers.

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Having answers usually makes us feel “smart” and “informed” and superior to the side we have not chosen.

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This also can make us feel like we belong with others who have similar answers.

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But most “answers” are more like knee-jerk reactions rather than thoughtful conclusions based on careful and ongoing examination. And—

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answers tend to be absolute and inflexible, answers become positions, answers are diďŹƒcult to question.

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So a facilitator must find ways to help individuals in Combat and in Conformity to question their “answers.”

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Socratic Inquiry]


How do facilitators do this?

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You may have heard of the Socratic Method. It’s a philosophical practice of asking questions (and answering with questions) in a ongoing search for “truth.”

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Socratic Inquiry]


This practice is in direct opposition to maintaining one’s sense of “right-ness” by debating and defending one’s answers.

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When someone is asked good, constructive questions and at some point recognizes that their “answer” cannot stand up to these questions, their view can be reshaped or revised.

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By contrast, if an answer does stand up to good, constructive questions,

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a person can feel more confident in their view.

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“Socratic Inquiry” is our “emotionally intelligent” version of the Socratic Method—

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a practice we’ve developed that goes beyond the academic or philosophical discussions associated with the Socratic Method.

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Socratic Inquiry takes into account who is asking the questions and how the questions are being asked.

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And facilitators practice it to address issues that are charged and relationships that are out of balance or inequitable.

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So facilitators ask questions from every perspective and every position in order to challenge every perspective and every position.

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This makes it more likely that individuals will receive the questions as an opportunity to explore rather than a moment to defend a position.

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The practice of Socratic Inquiry helps people to question the answers that tend to dominate in groups who are standing in Combat and Conformity.

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With thoughtful questioning from ALL angles, facilitators help individuals to explore, discover or revise their views—which is good for them.

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And this process does a lot to modify the intensity of Combat and Conformity—which is good for everybody.

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Remember: A facilitator is needed to apply this method in contentious (Combat) and uncompromising (Conformity) situations because people will not naturally question themselves—

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especially when their answers are connected to their identity, belonging or beliefs.

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We are all more likely to defend ourselves and our views (and solidify those same views), rather than to challenge ourselves. (And this keeps us stuck in Combat or Conformity.)

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So HOW does a facilitator actually practice Socratic Inquiry?

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Overall, by responding to people’s “answers” with constructive questions (ones that activate a mindset of Discovery).

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Let’s practice…

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Think of a belief that you hold that you know can be contentious. For example: The Western world is more progressive than other parts of the world.

Ask a question about that belief. For example: What are the progressive elements associated with the Western world?

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Keep generating more and more questions. What else could be included in this belief? What could be excluded from this belief? What are you curious about when you think of this belief? What else are you curious about? What do you think is absolutely true about this belief? What do you think is uncertain about this belief?

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Belief: The Western world is more progressive than other parts of the world. For example: What is the Western World? What does the rest of the world see that perhaps the progressive world does not? What is the other side of being progressive? What are the dangers of a progressive world?

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.

Examine it from all angles. What would someone from another group see? What would they think is true? What do they think you’re missing? How would you respond to them? Where does the other group have a good point? Etc., etc.

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Belief: The Western world is more progressive than other parts of the world For example: How is that actually dierent compared to the rest of the world? Whose rights are forgotten in the progressive world? Who is not being considered in either of these worlds?

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As you practice Socratic Inquiry—

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Question every answer. Explore the assumptions that are behind every answer. Elicit stories that illustrate how an individual arrived at their views. Seek more and more views on every topic than you can imagine.

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Here’s a very simple “formula” for Socratic Inquiry:

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Questions + Questions + Questions = More Questions

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And “more questions” translates into:

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less absolute clarity, less belief in a singular position (or answer), and more willingness to consider other views.

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More questions really means— more potential for Discovery.

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We know this uncertainty often feels uncomfortable.

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But, don’t worry! We’ve all done this before—

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when we were children.

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Think of how children are not satisfied with “answers” because they are already on to the next question.

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And think about how much children Discover!

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Some call this a “Beginner’s Mind” (another key element of the mindset of a facilitator).

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So now you know the first communication practice for facilitators— SOCRATIC INQUIRY.

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Practicing this will keep you connected to a Beginner’s Mind, which is another way to say “a mindset of Discovery.”

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But there are a few other basic practices a facilitator uses to be most effective in employing Socratic Inquiry. So, let’s keep going.

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Taking All Sides

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As you now know, when people are in close proximity to Combat or Conformity, it is very tempting to take one side. Most of us do.

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BUT, the job of a facilitator is do something unusual. The job of a facilitator is to take all sides—temporarily.

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“Taking All Sides” is a temporary stance where a facilitator is not aligned with or in support of any one side or position in a controversy.

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A facilitator is actually aligned with ALL sides and positions.

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This is like being a referee—you make the same calls for both teams.

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It’s also like being a doctor in a war zone—you treat all people who are wounded.

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When a facilitator stands on all sides, it allows them to be curious from those different positions. And this turns into more thoughtful questions—which leads to more Discovery.

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Remember, your job as a facilitator is to help people from every side to move closer toward the fulcrum’s balance point.

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We are not saying that facilitators should be “neutral” people—

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just like we wouldn’t say doctors should be immune from disease.

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You are NOT a neutral person, we know that. You have opinions, answers, and positions as well.

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BUT, when you are facilitating, your job is to seek and explore the truth in ALL sides. That act becomes a catalyst to the rebalancing of unhealthy relationships.

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And this makes the work of a facilitator extremely diďŹƒcult and valuable and necessary to the world.

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Of course, facilitators are still people who can get “provoked” or “bothered” when they encounter certain views.

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This will happen to you. It happens to all of us.

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“Getting provoked” will make you want to defend one side. It could even feel like a moral conflict. But in order to serve others, we put that tendency aside temporarily.

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So let’s take a moment to think about you: What are some opinions, answers or positions you have?

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What are some ideas you just cannot accept or that you refuse to believe? Or stated another way, what’s on YOUR sign(s)?

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Revisiting YOUR sign(s), and recognizing ideas that provoke or bother you is essential to your work as a facilitator. Why?

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Because you need to know when you can’t facilitate—because that happens.

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You have limits. We all do. And it is good to know when you reach them. (We could write another book on that.)

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Helpful hint: When it’s hard “Taking All Sides,” rely on the practice of Socratic Inquiry to keep you curious and to help you stay in Discovery mindset.

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The practices of Socratic Inquiry and Taking All Sides work together.

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Ready for another practice?

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Open-Ended Questions

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Questions are not just questions.

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HOW

DID

YOU

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THAT

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For a facilitator, questions become a practice.

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So they pay attention to how to design questions and how to ask them.

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Humans tend to ask questions that are familiar to them, ones that lead to comfortable or predictable answers.

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The effect of these questions— intentional or not—is actually to close a conversation rather than to open one.

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But in order for new ideas and new perspectives to emerge,

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we cannot keep asking the same questions in the same old ways.

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We have to ask new questions, open questions—so we can elicit creative and “new” responses (responses we have not heard before).

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We especially need to do this when addressing seemingly intractable problems–

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when we find ourselves in places of Combat or Conformity.

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“New” answers are ones that an individual has not previously considered or ones that have not been inherited from others.

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New answers often take individuals beyond truths they have accepted and that have become obligatory.

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This can be scary territory.

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But when individuals do uncover new answers, they are by definition in the territory of Discovery.

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And as you now know, Discovery is the antidote for Combat and Conformity.

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As a facilitator, you need to be able to ask these new questions. Sounds daunting, right?

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Well, one place to start is to simply ask Open-Ended Questions.

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Open-Ended Questions are designed very specifically—

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to elicit more than a one-word answer, more than a “yes” or “no.”

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So facilitators don’t ask: Do you want that? Do you like that? Is that your view? Is this what bothers you?

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Can you see how those questions are closed-ended?

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They effectively “close” a conversation because the person only can answer with “yes” or “no.”

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Open-Ended Questions always begin with the words “what” or “how.”

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What inspired you to go in that direction? How did you tell your sister that? What do you want? How do you feel when he forgets? (We’ll talk about “Why” questions later…)

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Open-Ended Questions are one of a facilitator’s practices because people respond to them with stories rather than “answers”.

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And stories humanize. Stories also express a wealth of information about a person’s assumptions, perspectives, feelings and experiences.

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Stories are richer, more complex and more nuanced than a person’s singular stance or opinion.

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Stories also begin to undermine: the divisiveness, the certainty, and the polarities that define how people think and talk when standing in Combat or Conformity.

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Are you beginning to see how Open-Ended Questions have the power to alter the way people talk—and think—about something?

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In short, personal stories are harder to “tame,” harder to put into a box, and harder to dismiss because they are by nature complex.

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And complexity is another route to Discovery!

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But complexity can also lead to confusion and silence. That is okay.

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Remember, the new questions you ask require new responses— ones people have never thought about before. This is hard work—and takes time.

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Your questions may not be embraced immediately.

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But with practice, you will acquire the patience and confidence to trust your questions and give people time to respond to them fully.

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Let’s talk about “Why” questions now.

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You might have noticed that “Why” also creates an Open-Ended Question—and it definitely invites more than a one-word response. It even may lead to a story.

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However, it subtly asks for an explanation or a justification (which is perilously close to an “answer”).

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And this often invites a more “scripted” response, a conclusion or an interpretation someone may have already determined.

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And “why” often just feels a bit pushy and demanding.

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For example: Why do you feel this way? Why did you do that? Why are you not listening? Why do you prefer that? Why do you not understand them?

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Compared to: What makes you feel this way? What inspired you to do that? What makes it hard to listen? What made you prefer that? What is diďŹƒcult to understand about them?

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As you begin your work as a facilitator, it’s best to break the habit of using “Why” questions and to challenge yourself to ask “What” or “How” questions. Trust us, this makes a difference.

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REMEMBER: People standing in Combat and Conformity already have “answers.” And they are really good at explaining and justifying those answers.

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They need a facilitator to invite them to share stories and to explore their complex experiences.

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HOW

DID

YOU

DO

THAT

?

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And creating new, Open-Ended Questions will help with this.

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By the way, we are not saying that “answers” are always bad.

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But we are saying that in the extremes of Combat and Conformity, answers do a great job of maintaining the extremes— rather than encouraging the moderating influence of nuance.

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Ultimately, in practicing Open-Ended Questions here are some of your goals:

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Seek out the knowledge and lived experiences of individuals What motivated you to do‌? What inspired you? What took you there?

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Encourage personal reflection What feelings does this topic elicit? What does hearing this make you remember? How has this shown up in your life? What have you learned from this?

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Ask for stories that demonstrate how an individual arrived at a belief or understanding How did you learn about this? How did your understanding of this originate? How did you discover this belief? What personal stories support this idea?

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Invite diverse opinions and viewpoints What is a viewpoint that is missing from the current conversation? What is a dierent way to respond to that? What part of this dialogue is in disagreement with your beliefs? How might someone else think about this?

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Explore underlying assumptions What do you need to accept for this idea to be true? How is that idea incomplete? What assumptions come to mind as you listen to this idea?

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So let’s practice asking new, Open-Ended Questions Look at the image here with the ice cream cone and two characters. Spend a few minutes thinking of as many “How” or “What” questions you could ask to discover more of this story.

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Maybe some of your questions looked like this:

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Seek out the knowledge and lived experiences of individuals What is the motivation for not allowing ice cream? What might happen if either of you eat ice cream? What are other things that are not allowed? What are you really upset about in this moment?

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Encourage personal reflection You look sad that he is saying “no” to ice cream; what does this make you want to do? What angers you about seeing him with ice cream? What does not allowing ice cream mean to you? What made you bring ice cream if you knew it was not allowed?

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Ask for stories that demonstrate how an individual arrived at a belief or understanding What has happened in your experience that makes ice cream a bad idea? How did you come to be so strict about this rule? How did you decide to oer him ice cream?

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Invite diverse opinions and viewpoints How might he be feeling holding the ice cream? What would he say “yes” to? What can you do with the ice cream? What does ice cream taste like? What is hard to accept in this moment? What is another way to think about each of your actions? 450

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Explore underlying assumptions How might each of you be right? How might each of you be wrong? How do you know he doesn’t like ice cream? How do you know he likes ice cream?

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The best practice will come in authentic situations.

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So experiment with asking new, Open-Ended Questions the next time you are in a conversation— with anyone.

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The fourth facilitation practice will help you respond to what emerges when you ask these new, Open-Ended Questions—

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because facilitation is about more than asking good questions. You’ll see what we mean.

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Active Reflective Listening

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As you have probably already observed, humans are not the best listeners—even under ideal circumstances.

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We often “selectively listen”— which means paying attention to what we want to hear, or what we expect to hear.

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We also “listen to win”— that is, we listen to prove we are right and others are wrong.

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We may listen for what is good or bad, right or wrong, yours or mine, or how we agree or disagree.

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We may listen to maintain our answers. We may listen to keep our worldview in place. We may even pretend to listen.

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Overall, our listening is usually motivated by a subtle but potent desire NOT to hear something new.

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Facilitators listen with a dierent purpose.

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A facilitator’s job is to do the opposite of the rest of us.

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A facilitator’s job is to listen actively—with openness, with a mindset of Discovery, without attachment to specific answers.

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A facilitator listens to discover more than what is currently accepted as true. That means they pay attention to what is not being said, what is hard to share, what is beneath the surface, what is shared between enemies and what is unshared between allies.

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A facilitator also listens to understand. So they pay attention to key details, examples, and experiences that help to explain a person’s views.

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A facilitator listens for unexpressed feelings.

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And a facilitator listens for the “pearls of truth” that exist in every perspective. (This can only happen if they are Taking All Sides, by the way.)

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Overall, active listening is a commitment to listening fearlessly (as opposed to narrowly).

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But… Facilitators don’t “just” listen actively. They actually “do something” with their listening.

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They do something called reflective listening.

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Facilitators summarize or rephrase or underline things that have been shared. Or even more simply, a facilitator just repeats the exact words that were just said. This is called “reflecting.” (You will be surprised by how often this simple tool matters.)

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And this practice helps people in Combat and Conformity hear the things they otherwise cannot hear.

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OU Y , Y NT A OKA W U O Y AID CT S E T P S ES JU R E MOR

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Because people in Combat and Conformity listen selectively, they cannot hear new things that would invite them to break out of the extremes.

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Reflective listening is essential because: It helps people to listen better to one another.

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It slows down the pace. It helps an individual to listen to themselves.

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Facilitators can also move a dialogue forward by expressing in their own words thoughts, feelings or ideas that they have interpreted from what someone has said.

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YOU MA KE ME SO M A WHEN Y D OU DO THA T.

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YOU A FEE CTUAL L L THA HURT Y T PAY HE’S N O IN ATT G YOU T ENT ION.

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Active Reflective Listening]


In other words, facilitators can reflect the essence of what they heard.

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For this purpose, facilitators use phrases like this:

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It sounds like you value… So what I’m hearing is… I believe what you’re saying is that… I’m noticing… It’s almost like you said… I’m getting the impression… I’m getting the sense that… When you say this… From your perspective… You seem to be feeling…

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In practicing Active Reflective Listening, here are some of your goals:

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Affirm the value of an individual sharing his or her perspective. Thank you so much for sharing that story. Ensure every perspective is received and understood. I am wondering if someone else has another side to this story to share. Clarify an individual’s meaning and intent to better understand their viewpoint. What I am understanding is that…. Summarize information for the group. This is what I heard you say:

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With that in mind, let’s practice.

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Read the story on the next page. And think of an Active Reflective Listening statement for each goal.

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The first time I met my parents, I was trembling, holding the hand of an air hostess. I had just flown from India all the way to New York City. (My parents lived in New York City. They moved there when I was one year old. They left me in India in the hands of my grandparents to raise me until they were ready to bring me overseas). It felt like seconds ago that I just left the arms of my grandmother who raised me with devotion. It also felt like eons ago when I said goodbye to my grandfather, promising him that I would continue to be a great math student. He was a math professor in a remote village in India you see. We lived at the border of Pakistan and India. I was born into a Sikh household, into a family that practices a religion that honors teachings from both Hinduism and Islam. Apart from our religion, mathematics was the only other

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thing that mattered to my grandfather. I promised him I would continue to be good at math. That’s how I got through my flight alone, as an eight year old. I counted all the seats on the plane, multiplied them by 1’s, 5’s, 10’s, and did all sorts of math problems that my grandfather would do with me. We could be in line for getting milk and he would find a way to practice a math problem. As I waited in line now, I glanced down at the picture of my parents I was carrying. All I had was one little photo of them, smiling at each other holding me when I was one. As I looked up, I saw my parents ahead. And then I saw a third person, a little boy in the middle. The math didn’t add up. He wasn’t in my photo. No one had told me about the brother I was just about to meet. I was being adopted by my own family.

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Here’s a few examples: Affirm the value of an individual sharing his or her perspective. Thank you so much for taking the risk to share your experiences and memories of feeling like an outsider amidst your own family. It sounds so complicated. Ensure every perspective is received and understood. I am wondering what your brother feels about that story you shared about meeting your parents for the first time.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Active Reflective Listening]


Clarify an individual’s meaning and intent to better understand their viewpoint. So what I am understanding from your story is that it was difficult to leave your grandparents because they felt like your parents. From what I heard in your story, it sounds like you felt betrayed by your parents. Summarize information for the group. From your perspective, you grew up trusting your grandparents and feeling abandoned and misinformed by your parents.

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508

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Active Reflective Listening]


So... Active listening is a commitment to absorbing fearlessly what a person is communicating.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Active Reflective Listening]


Active Reflective Listening is putting into words what you absorbed in order to share it with an individual.

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We hope you can see that listening actively and reflecting what you hear helps people to receive more fully what has been said—and thus, to create another route to Discovery.

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The next (and final) practice will tune your attention to basic principles of group communication.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Active Reflective Listening]


We’ve been talking a lot about how facilitators work with individuals.

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But when you facilitate a dialogue, you will be working with a group— which can sometimes behave like a living, breathing organism.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Active Reflective Listening]


This section will also help you to see how to integrate all of the practices we’ve discussed already.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator


Disrupting Communication Patterns

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As you’ve learned, relationships can be seen as unhealthy or out of balance when the individuals involved cannot disagree meaningfully, and cannot maintain mutual trust and respect when they do.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


What we see is that people who are stuck in Combat or Conformity LIMIT both what they express and how they express themselves.

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maintain similar arguments

lead to similar conclusions

526

develop similar narratives

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


But these patterns 1. maintain similar arguments, 2. develop similar narratives, and 3. lead to similar conclusions which prevents the Discovery of new perspectives and new conclusions—

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and which keeps people in Combat or Conformity.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


maintain similar arguments

lead to similar conclusions

develop similar narratives

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maintain similar arguments lead to similar conclusions

530

develop similar narratives

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


A facilitator’s work is to gently disrupt these patterns to help people to engage in less habitual or “scripted” ways. A facilitator can intervene on two different levels of a conversation:

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The specific topics discussed... e.g., our homes, our families, our workplace, our thoughts about the latest election, our feelings about an incident of terrorism, our desires for the future, etc.

532

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


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and how topics are discussed. e.g., suggesting, defending, intellectualizing, yelling, demanding, persuading, clarifying, etc.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


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This distinction matters because— the conversation can be stuck in a topic— or the way people are talking about the topic. Or both.

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And a facilitator has to identify where to disrupt the communication patterns.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


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Let’s start with how a facilitator can work with topics.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


But get ready because we’re also going to explore a complex example here to show you how to use all of your practices at once.

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TOPICS = what people are talking about. For example, a group of men is talking about their roles in the family.

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Their comments revolve around a particular topic—that men must be the providers in their families.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


They are saying things like: “What do we need to do to make sure young men in our community are ready to care for their family?” “I have two daughters, and I feel like I don’t have anyone to take care of my family in the future.” “Everything is ok in my family, I take care of making sure all needs are met.”

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While these are all valuable ideas, they are only considering one perspective on the topic.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


That perspective is: Men HAVE to be providers for the family.

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So what do you do as a facilitator when you observe this pattern— that people are locked in one particular perspective on a topic?

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


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A facilitator uses their communication practices to disrupt this pattern in order to invite additional perspectives on the topic—to make their discussion more exploratory and constructive.

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A facilitator would use all of their practices here to explore the topic— That men must be the providers of a family

552

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


and to expand it to include additional perspectives. That providing for the family could include contributions from all members of the family That women need to be providers of the family That being a provider is not the most important role in a family

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


You can think of this as creating mini “thought experiments”—as a way to help people to think “outside the box.”

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Questioning the limits of the topic and seeking additional perspectives helps the group to Discover new ways of thinking about the topic.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


See how Discovery naturally emerges?

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And in Discovering new ways of thinking about a topic, a group may even be able to explore more topics.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


For example: While the men started out talking about their role in the family, they move into talking about marriage or intimacy and what they need from their partners (which may, in turn, open up their view of their roles).

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But... a conversation cannot move toward Discovery unless a facilitator interrupts a group’s most redundant topics.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


So what are some practical ways to do this?

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


Hint: Use the communication practices you are learning to open the group to a new landscape of topics and perspectives.

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Ask Open-Ended Questions that will broaden the discussion: “What stories have yet to be shared about this?” “What other ideas are missing from our conversation?” “What’s another way to think about this topic that you would not consider?”

566

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


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Share what you are observing with Active Reflective Listening statements and questions: “It sounds like we are all expressing the same opinion.” “It seems like we are stuck between two topics. What’s another way to see this?” “We have been using similar positions to talk about this topic. Are there more?” “It seems that someone is trying to state a different perspective. Let’s explore it.”

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Activate Socratic Inquiry and trust your facilitator mindset.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


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Now let’s examine the second level—how a group discusses things.

572

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


Often, it’s hard for us to see how we are talking to each other. That’s why a facilitator is so important.

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There will be patterns that a facilitator will notice. These patterns are all impacting the conversation.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


So, we’re going to examine six ways of communicating that allow a facilitator to understand relationships and possibilities in a dialogue:

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


1. Volume Example: yelling, being timid, mumbling, barely speaking

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578

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


2. Tone Example: aggressive, angry, shy anxious, fearful, distracted

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


3. Body language Example: crossing legs, folding arms, edge of the seat, pulled into the group, smirking, smiling, crying

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4. Pace Example: speaking fast, cutting people o, taking time to finish thoughts

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


5. Energy level Example: tired, emotional, lively, focused

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586

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


6. Alliances Example: taking sides, speaking as “teams,” accepting certain ideas over others

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588

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


Let’s go back to our example of the men talking about providing for their families. You learned what to do as a facilitator when the conversation gets stuck on a topic.

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Now pay attention to how the group is communicating about a topic. As the men talk, their pace quickens, and people begin talking over one another— even making rapid arm motions in order to interrupt or stop what someone else is saying. At one point, two men turn to each other and start whispering.

590

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


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The group’s current way of talking is exclusive, prevents everyone from being heard, and leaves little room for thinking about what is actually being said.

592

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


You have observed that there is a clear alliance between two men. You are noticing body language; a few other men have sat back in their seats. There is an aggressive tone and increased pace in people’s voices. The volume has died down, but the energy level seems really high and intense for a few participants while you notice that some participants are very reserved.

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As a facilitator you recognize that how they are talking is not the most eective means to Discover something new.

594

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


It is your job to disrupt these patterns. But how do you do that?

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


Return to your communication practices.

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You could start by simply asking Open-Ended Questions to the individuals about the ways they are communicating:

598

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


“What emotion is behind what you are saying?” “How can you say that so it can be understood by someone who disagrees?” “What is making you say this so timidly? (forcefully, quickly, loudly, etc.)” “What is making you want to speak over him?” “What are you feeling when you share that?”

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You can also put two practices together—use your Active Reflective Listening to state an observation and follow it up with an Open-Ended Question.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


“You both seem upset...what are you thinking?” “You have been quiet...what’s on your mind?” “I am aware that only three people are talking...what are we missing?” “We are talking really fast...what’s motivating that?” “I realized you just lowered your head… what are you feeling?”

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


As you begin noticing and disrupting communication patterns, you may begin to uncover a few common, unhelpful habits of communication.

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604

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


In fact, we call these “traps” rather than habits because humans tend to get stuck in these (usually invisible) patterns.

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Here are some communication traps you will likely need to disrupt in a group’s communication.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


One overpowering voice setting the terms of the conversation Group members valuing thinking over feeling Group think: everyone agreeing with what is being said Non-mainstream perspectives being silenced

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608

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


Now, let’s break down a few traps that are a bit more complicated.

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Prioritizing rational argumentation over personal experience

610

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


Think statistics, history, facts, researched articles, politics. When these dominate a conversation a facilitator needs to interrupt the speaker and ask for a story, “Can you share your facts through a story?” Why? These things tend to end true dialogue; they tend to lead us to positions and answers rather than the possibility of Discovery.

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Subtle judgments that systematically prevent expression of particular views

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


This may become apparent through body language (rolling of eyes, shaking of heads), or silence after someone has shared. Remember that a facilitator Takes All Sides. Momentarily take the side of a particular view so that it gets a fair chance to be examined. This often means simply talking to the person with the view that is being judged and inviting others to directly respond.

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Gender, race, culture norms

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


There are going to be dynamics at play that determine who tends to have power in situations (i.e. who is normally seen as “right�, who normally gets to talk, who is the victim, who is the oppressor, etc.). Being aware of these norms helps a facilitator to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to speak and to be heard in the dialogue. Work from a place of Socratic inquiry to discover rather than assume how these are at play in each dialogue.

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As you practice Disrupting Communication Patterns, you will see how crucial this is to creating a conversation that makes a difference to people’s lives.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


Remember—it can’t make a difference if it’s not different.

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As you do this, you will be asking people to engage with topics they may have never considered or topics they are afraid to examine.

618

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


And you will ask them to talk to each other in new ways.

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This often leads to Discomfort.

620

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


Thankfully, Discomfort is another route toward Discovery (because individuals are more likely to seek new answers in this state).

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But Discomfort can also lead to Fear.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


Of course, we don’t want people to retreat to Fear because Fear is a barrier to Discovery.

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626

• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


But the presence of a trusted facilitator can help ease that Fear.

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That’s why part of a facilitator’s job is to earn trust and to build trust.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


Which requires you to trust Conflict and Discomfort (as you already do if you’ve developed the mindset of a facilitator).

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But you will be challenged by participants many times. And if you don’t fundamentally trust these ideas, the individuals you are working with will not trust you.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


Remember: If there’s not enough trust, there’s not enough room for Discovery.

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Wow

(Deep breath)

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That was a lot to digest. And yes, we’re getting close to the end of this book.

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As you let the mindset and practices of a facilitator sink in, we hope you are feeling inspired to do this work in all of the places where it’s needed.

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


And as you prepare to step into this role, you are probably asking,

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• Communication Practices of a Facilitator [Disrupting Communication Patterns]


“How can I tell if my facilitation is working?” Don’t worry—that’s where we’re headed next.

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Part Four Transformation and What’s Possible


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• Transformation and What’s Possible


When we started this book, we invited you into a story focused on two powerful forces— the force of Conflict (that pushes for change) and the force of Collaboration (that pushes for stability).

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We said that each force influences the shape of everything—from families to nationhood.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


What we didn’t say is that those forces also influence the shape of molecules, trees, solar systems... In other words—all living things.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


Because every living thing needs both stability and change.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


You probably noticed that the title of this book suggests that these two forces need to be transformed— presumably with the help of a trained facilitator.

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Did you notice that?

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


Well, only someone (like you!) who has gotten this far into the book will learn our final—and hugely important—point:

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650

• Transformation and What’s Possible


Our title is a misnomer. (It’s wrong or inaccurate.)

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652

• Transformation and What’s Possible


Conflict and Collaboration

actually don’t need to be transformed.

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654

• Transformation and What’s Possible


Conflict and Collaboration simply need to exist. Just as they are. In dynamic balance.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


We humans can’t prefer one over the other. And we can’t run away from either.

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We just need to Trust both forces, and to find ways to live in their continuous movement.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


Then these forces can work together as the partners that they are, rather than the opponents humans assume them to be. This provides the greatest balance and equity in our relationships.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


When Conflict and Collaboration are living in partnership–neither force needs to change. Neither force needs to be transformed.

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When Conflict is doing its best work, it creates opportunities for Collaboration (because differences must be bridged).

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


When Collaboration is doing its best work, it is open to Conflict (because incremental change is actually stabilizing).

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


It is only when Conflict and Collaboration are free to exist together, in dynamic balance, that we see things like:

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Thoughtful decisions

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


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668

• Transformation and What’s Possible


Healthy disagreement

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Creative negotiations

670

• Transformation and What’s Possible


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672

• Transformation and What’s Possible


Responsive solutions

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Inclusive groups

674

• Transformation and What’s Possible


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• Transformation and What’s Possible


However, Combat and Conformity are another story.

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Combat and Conformity actually do need to be transformed— from their more extreme, unbending states into more moderate and responsive ones.

678

• Transformation and What’s Possible


And that is actually what you have been learning to do—to help people to shift away from Positions and Answers and to move towards Listening and Discovery.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


You have been learning how to help humans to transform

Combat and Conformity.

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That was just too complicated to explain at the beginning of the book.

682

• Transformation and What’s Possible


So we saved it for you until now.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


This is groundbreaking stuff. And, there’s one more question that we’re sure you have:

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


How can a facilitator know transformation is happening?

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688

• Transformation and What’s Possible


Here are some ways:

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TRUST grows (building confidence in a relationship)

EMPATHY arises (one can describe the world as someone else sees/experiences it)

RAPPORT expands (nurtures positive, cohesive interactions between people)

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


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• Transformation and What’s Possible


PERSONAL STORIES are shared;

people are more candid and express their vulnerabilities

PARTICIPATION increases; inhibitions decrease

DISAGREEMENT is welcome and invited LISTENING improves (thus, creating more involvement and more views expressed)

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CREATIVITY increases RISK TAKING occurs (there is enough trust to challenge ideas)

ENGAGEMENT increases INCLUSIVENESS increases

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


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696

• Transformation and What’s Possible


In other words... Conformity is moving closer to Collaboration—Combat is moving closer to Conflict.

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698

• Transformation and What’s Possible


Overall, you will see less extreme positions, more aďŹƒrmation, and less hostility between divergent views, and...

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700

• Transformation and What’s Possible


you will probably notice more... UNCERTAINTY.

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702

• Transformation and What’s Possible


Uncertainty means that new ideas and new thoughts are arising and gently destabilizing the previous certainty that was present in Combat or Conformity.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


Uncertainty means that the “answers” that seemed so true, and so unquestionable, are actually being examined.

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It is in this uncertainty that people have the opportunity to Discover that certainty doesn’t hold up in the face of other competing certainties, and that certainty is limited.

706

• Transformation and What’s Possible


And it’s here that we get to encounter the more vital forces of Conflict and Collaboration—where certainty and uncertainty can exist together.

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708

• Transformation and What’s Possible


This opens the opportunity for all kinds of Discovery.

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710

• Transformation and What’s Possible


Can you see now how a trained facilitator knows they are transforming Combat into Conflict and Conformity into Collaboration?

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Can you see why we need facilitators in the world as much as we need medical doctors?

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


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• Transformation and What’s Possible


Like doctors, facilitators are essential to human health—to keeping the forces of Conflict and Collaboration alive, well, and in balance.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


It’s a hard job. And great facilitators need lots of practice. A LIFETIME of practice. Really.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


So this is the point where we end this book and where you take your part in this story through PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE and

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


DISCOVERY DISCOVERY DISCOVERY.

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• Transformation and What’s Possible


We invite you to join us in this important work. We are convinced that it’s worth it.

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By now, we hope you are too.

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Essentials for Dialogue Facilitation

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Transforming Conflict and Collaboration  

Transforming Conflict and Collaboration