This is an example of one way to facilitate a conversation. Facilitating effective meetings requires practice and skill. Please consider obtaining further training or consultation to assist you in developing this skill.
- Schedule appropriate amount of time for meeting
- Is a conversation
- Reinforce that this is a good step and in their mutual interest to meet
- Describe your role and meeting guidelines. For example:
- Clarify how decisions will be made
- (For reference: Handouts on effective/sender of communication)
2. Each person presents his/her understanding of the situation/issues
- Ask each person to briefly, clearly, and specifically define what he or she would like as outcomes of this meeting
- Look for and comment on any outcome commonalities
- Encourage specific examples to be given vs. global statements such as "always" or "everyone"
- Encourage Sender to not focus on assumed intentions of the other person
- Encourage the conversation to stay behaviorally focused
- Receiver reflects back to the Sender what the Receiver understands as the outcomes
- Receiver can only ask clarifying questions or requests for more information to ensure he or she understands the situation correctly. (May need to remind people here that they don't necessarily have to agree with what's being said, they just have to hear/understand it).
- This dialogue of sharing/asking for information continues until both feel they have communicated enough and understand what each other is wanting as outcomes
3. Each person is given the opportunity to talk about the situation/issue
- This part needs to be carefully facilitated
- Keep the conversation focused on items/content that will help lead toward the outcomes they identified earlier
- Limit conversation about:
- The past
- Projected/assumed negative behavior of the other person
- Other people
- Unrelated items (dumping of more issues on the table)
- Stop conversation if it becomes attacking, defensive, or blaming
- Consider putting a time limit on this part of the conversation with any parties who dominate the conversation. If conversation gets bogged down here, feels like it's going in circles, or tensions are increasing:
- Move the conversation to discussing the outcomes the parties mentioned earlier and the commonalities of the outcomes the parties are wanting.
4. Getting to the outcomes
- Reiterate the outcomes the parties are wanting and highlight commonalities
- Invite one person to offer what he or she will do to obtain the outcomes
- The other person will listen and reflect back what was offered and then comment on if that would be helpful. If the offer wouldn't be helpful, then that person is encouraged to offer alternate suggestions
- If appropriate, you can ask each person to state what they need from the other person in order to achieve an outcome (careful facilitation of the process is needed here)
- This process continues between the parties until they both feel they can live with or are content with the outcomes and means of achieving them
- If necessary, if an agreeable outcome can't be reached: table the discussion and try again later. Or, implement the decision-making process that was decided upon earlier.