Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Facilitating ~Sevan

Let me first say...that I'm in no way posting this because this is the *only* way to do things. Some of these ideas are just things that are working for me as a facilitator...and I want to shed light on some of the "background" things that are involved for me, as a facilitator.

The first, and I think most to cultivate relationships with the people you facilitate. Get to know what they like, what they're about. The larger the group...the more difficult this really becomes. can always try.

Our local group has a facebook group that's attached, and I always make sure to "friend" everyone that's part of our facebook group so that I can see what they post about, and get to know them better. If I haven't seen them for a while at the meetings; I'll message them on facebook, or email and just check in with them and see how they're doing.

When you know the people in your group that you're facilitating then you know their strengths (or can try to..) and play to those strengths to get them more involved. When they're involved they can feel like they have partial ownership of the group and contribute to the outcome.
Who knows tumblr really well? Who enjoys photography and can create pictures of events? Who's good with Html and can help with any web presence? Who's warm and inviting and can act as greeters at meetings?

One thing that I try to do...and it may seem very small but I think it's important...and that's to show your own humanity. I never pretend to be perfect. I never even try. If I feel like I'm being put up on a pedestal...I try to take that with grace, but remind them all that I'm human. I fail. Plenty. I think that's important because if you're up high on a's a long hard fall when you do fall...and you will...because that's being human!!

Networking is very important. Getting to know other facilitators and leaders of other similar groups in your area is really important. As facilitator of a trans* group we've gotten to know the board of the LGBT center quite well, the board members of OutSpokane (the organization that puts on PRIDE, among other events) etc. We've also created relationships with other trans* groups around our state so that we know how they do things.

I've created a sign in sheet that includes birthdays. I make sure to remember when birthdays are coming up, and bring that to the attention of the group so that we can celebrate, or at least get a card and recognize their important day.

Look forward to events. Make sure to plan ahead with plenty of time. We started planning for our first Pride booth about four months ahead of time. That gave us time to create educational materials, posters, a banner etc without stress. It also gave us ample time to slowly accrue the cash for those things. Transitioning isn't cheap and I never want to add financial stress to group members (if I can help it..)
As not all trans* people are gay/lesbian/bi it's a good idea to look for events that aren't LGBT geared. There's a diversity celebration in Aug locally that we're planning on participating in.
We're also planning to invite other organizations to join with us in creating our own event for Transgender day of Remembrance. Our local community is supportive and accepting and welcoming them to help us create an event gives them the opportunity to show that support in a visible way. I think it will likely go very well. :)

I'm sure I'm missing a number of things but that's a good enough list for now.

Above open, be present and be available to listen and encourage people to share. Giving people a chance to feel really heard is sadly's a gift.


Nicki said...

I have always found that people are more willing to share and invest themselves if they can see you sharing and investing yourself. It's kind of the whole Johari window thing - you need to gift some of yourself to get others to gift some of themselves back. I think group situations work when it becomes permissive to share deep things, which leads to others sharing too. Out of that can come healing and growth.

I read a book on facilitating once, and it suggested that a facilitators opinions are not important and your job is not to add to the information created. I don't believe this is always true. But you are someone in a position of relative power and your opinions can create bias. It sounds like you are downplaying that aspect of your position which I think is a really good thing to do.

Sevan said...

"I read a book on facilitating once, and it suggested that a facilitators opinions are not important and your job is not to add to the information created."
I read a similar book and I think that it somewhat depends on your group. I also think that keeping your own experiences to yourself can make you look stand off-ish and unapproachable.
I do agree that sharing opinions too much can definitely create bias which I try to avoid bias and cliques.