Every participant who joins a workshop or program expects a facilitator to be professional at all times. This person should be an expert in the given role. This is what every facilitator needs to uphold and demonstrate.
Keeping a professional demeanor is not just about faking it for as long as you can, but making it a true and natural reflection of your personality regardless of the position, career, or aspect in your life. Along the way, experienced facilitators gradually learn to incorporate these professional attributes and share them with every organization or group they come across in doing their task.
Because of these expectations, facilitators should manifest what is desirable and exemplary to the members. And this means being cautious in their actions and in what they say because it can cause an impact on the participants. How every facilitator is perceived depends mostly on the way he deals with the group and the process in general.
If you are aspiring to be a facilitator or if you are currently conducting facilitation roles, learning the basics is a must in performing this task efficiently. This would include the things that every facilitator should avoid or refrain from in assisting or guiding a group’s activity or event.
What a Facilitator Should Not Do
When it comes to dealing with group members, a facilitator should not dominate the group. Participants should be given tasks or roles that will help them develop more confidence. They should feel that they are the more important individuals to whom the workshop is conducted for. The facilitator should not downplay people’s ideas and push personal viewpoints as the “right” answer. Respect for all shared opinions must be highly considered, as each person has the right to express what he thinks about the subject. When it comes to decision-making, avoid dictating what you think is the appropriate decision.
In terms of communication skills and interacting with the group, it is not good to interrupt a person when still talking. A facilitator should also minimize, if not eliminate, the use of speech crutches such as uhm’s and ah’s. Reading from a manuscript or a “cheat sheet” is not advisable, too. When engaged in an open discussion, do not take a stance with a particular person or group. In asking and responding to questions, do not make up an answer to a question when you do not really know what the right answer is because you never know who is in the room.
A facilitator must refrain from giving personal compliments of himself as much as he should not be talking too much of personal experiences and stories or making the personal life an open book. It is not wise to share inappropriate or offensive stories as well.
Undesirable Outcomes of Unwanted Behaviors when Facilitating
In a training session of newly hired employees, for example, when the facilitator or trainer does not act and speak accordingly, would you think the participants will respect him? It takes effort to achieve other people’s respect, more so their trust. So, if they are not being dealt with properly and professionally, you as a leader will not gain the kind of respect you deserve. As professionals, facilitators are also concerned of keeping a good and firm reputation to the group. You will get a bad impression from the participants if you choose to perform unprofessionally. Lastly, you should not expect your program, workshop, or event you are handling to be a success if you did not even take on responsibility for your role.
The Value of Patience and Understanding
Facilitators who are patient and understanding enough in dealing with the participants are able to smoothly perform their main task in guiding and assisting a group in a program or activity, making it easy for the process to go through efficiently.
Then again, you do not need to be some kind of superhuman. You just need to adhere to the professional approach of being a facilitator by following even just the basics and delivering the skill with proficiency. So, taking it on the level of a mature individual, an effective facilitator knows when and how to be flexible, patient, and understanding every time the role is assumed.