I just finished my Roadside Philosopher group discussion this morning. Everyone played nice and it was on a hot topic, "Love and Relationships" We had close to 50 in attendance.
Online facilitation has its own methodology. Most of the time it is a disjointed rat race in open chat, or a screaming match over the other person in voice.
I have been doing this now for over six years and trying to get a successful methodology out there. I get comments & approvals from many, but no matter how many see how I do it.. few will take away the method for their own facilitation.
Why is it so hard to facilitate?
I think most wish to be seen as the boss, or if not the boss, a friend, so they don't interrupt.
I have a voluntary international brainstorming group 566 members at the moment, and the only way it will work is if everyone feels safe. Who in the heck wants to take 2 hours out of their weekend time to discuss a volatile topic if they are going to be attacked?
I use to teach facilitation in world, but I gave up. See slides here:
There are the people who wish to question my authority. What degree do I have? What company do I work for? If I played that game, then they challenge the authority that my reference would give.. and that can go on and on....Sooo.. I come right out and say, "I have no authority."
In reality most of what I learned, was from being a professional clown. It does not pay to make the kids sad during your performance if you don't want to have the entertainment turn into "Pin the tail on the whiteface." You also can't afford to alienate the parents that pay you, so you are forced to smile through untold humiliation and spin attacks right back into your program. Seventeen years of doing that has prepared me for group facilitation. Now how many would really take that as my authority?
I just read a blog by a friend who was challenging his right to call someone he disagrees with a name. As if, calling them a name, raises the validity of the point you are trying to make.
We need to listen people. We need to try and see other perceptions. Yes, our view point is valid, but most likely there is reason for the opposite viewpoint as well. If you have something other than name calling as your point, I will listen. If all you can do is use the weapon-of-compensation of intimidation... you will be muted.
Listen, Learn and encourage and you too will be amazed at what can happen to facilitate understanding in whatever world you engage.
Now to really test my facilitation ability.. Eeeek next meeting will be on Beliefs & Religion: Is Religion needed in 2013? I mentioned this after meeting and fireworks went off... Ooooh, I am going to be in so much trouble. *smile*