Graduate-Level Facilitation or Basic Civility?

Last fall my colleague Jennifer Ledet, leadership consultant, and I enrolled in a Facilitation Course which led to our certification as facilitators. In that high-level program we learned advanced facilitation techniques such as:

  • how to gain consensus across time zones, cultures, and continents
  • how to help teams manage multimillion-dollar projects and make high-level global decisions
  • how to create buy-in and acceptance when many options are all reasonable and each person, division, and company has different needs and the stakes are high

This is graduate-level facilitation!

Before companies, organizations, and boards of all types can achieve graduate-level facilitation, they must master Civility 101. Before a facilitation session, I survey employees regarding their concerns and am always struck by the number of workplace issues that are matters of common courtesy.

Here are the absolute basics of facilitation, and of civility for that matter:

Don’t yell, scream, or pound your fist on tables. Don’t throw things or point your finger at anyone. Don’t slam the door when you leave the room or purposefully tip over chairs (if you are clumsy like me, well, then it’s okay).

Speak calmly and professionally at all times.

Don’t name call or label people as ignorant, lazy, fat, stupid, unmotivated, or even worse.

Refer to people with respect.

Don’t talk ill of people after the meeting.
Don’t tell or threaten anyone after the meeting (or at any time for that matter).
Don’t say, “You will be sorry,” or “This will hurt your career,” or “You better watch your back.”

Be civil.
Remember that what you say before and after the meeting is as important as what you say during the meeting.

Don’t blame.
Don’t shame.
Don’t allow meetings to be about how things went wrong.

Ask, “How can we prevent this from happening again?”
“What safeguards are in place for the future?”
“How important is it that this doesn’t occur again?”
“How can we support the person, department, or process to reach our objectives?”

If there are people in your organization who exhibit these behaviors, please forward this message to them. Then go to your HR department, your in-house lawyer, or your greatest sponsor and ask for training — lots of it! It is needed and the cost of not having a professional and productive workplace is huge, not to mention that your organization is exhibiting signs of harassment.

Is your organization more advanced? Great! You are ready for graduate school!

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December 3, 2019

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