Facilitation Skills: Relating Skills

Relating Skills

You will have more success as a facilitator if you first consider how you relate to members of the group. Do you need to brush up on your communication styles, listening skills and/or questioning strategies before you get started?

Communication Styles

A Communication Styles Chart summarizes three types of communication styles that you may encounter in a meeting, workshop, or group and how that behavior can impact others. The goal is to be assertive and realize that both submissive and aggressive communication styles also exist. In any given situation, you may need to draw out the submissive communicator and/or intervene to temper the aggressive communicator.

Listening Skills

Nature has given to men one tongue, but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.                       ~ Epictetus ~

Getting things done is impossible if you don’t communicate well. When most people think of good communication, they think of their ability to clearly tell another person what they want them to know. But hearing what the other person is saying is just as important. This holds true whether, as the facilitator, you are listening to one member of the group or to the group as a collective.

Asking Effective Questions

Questions and a questioning strategy are central to facilitation. For example, questions are used to:
  • Get to know the members of a group. “How many of you have participated in a stream monitoring program?”
  • Start a discussion. “What was your reaction to the director’s announcement?”
  • Focus small group work. “If you had $20,000, what would your plan look like?”
  • Check for understanding. “What are the two key points I just made?
  • Determine critical information. “Does anyone know when that happened?”
  • Probe for deeper meaning. “Can you explain that further?”

How does a facilitator formulate effective questions and question effectively?  The first has to do with the wording of the question and the second on the delivery of the question.

Adapted with permission from Soil and Water Conservation District Outreach: A Handbook for Program Development, Implementation and Evaluation. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Conservation, 2003.