Patience in Facilitation

I’m not a patient person. Really not. In fact, my children, siblings, parents and most people who know me, will vouch for my top exploding more easily than others‘ at apparently small notice and for little reason.

As a facilitator I have so much less trouble being patient. OK, I’ve learnt that different people have different ways of communicating and understanding and learning. So I’m not going to rush people. It wouldn’t make sense and I’d only have a few on board. OK, I’m often being paid quite well and by the hour. So it wouldn’t make economic sense to do a 2-day facilitation in half the time. But seriously, that’s not the reason I can be a pillar of patience as a facilitator.

It’s got more to do with the whole attitude a facilitator adopts. As a facilitator I’m there to understand what people are trying and aiming to say (through which ever channels they employ). And it’s my job to make sure others are on board too.  Why? Because if I don’t I’ll have to sell them something. Sell them the feeling that we’re reaching results we’re not. Sell them decisions they haven’t really made. And that will fly back in (at least) my face. Because in order to reach real results which people can feel passionate about and which will be sustainable, people must consider them their own.

Another reason I’m able to curb my impatience as a facilitator is that it’s so interesting watching people interact. If possible, I’ll step back and let the discussion, the change process take control of itself. I’ll only get involved if required. Fascinating stuff and far too good to rush and push and beep one’s horn at.

And another reason is that I’m not part of the thought generation process. I’m watching from a few steps away. I’m not being called on to raise an opinion or assert my authority on a particular issue. I’m the one asking the questions and making the suggestions. Then I can just step back and watch the unique discussion process take shape. Patiently.

Patience is a virtue. Nevertheless, a good portion of impatience as a facilitator is also handy in order to get a group back to achieving its objectives and not beat about unnecessary bushes.


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