Instead of relying on external or professional facilitators, we empower community members to host these discussions, ensuring relatability and preserving the essential elements of trust and openness within the community.
We believe that everyone has the skills necessary to facilitate a small-group conversation.
Think about the last time someone shared a story with you. How did you demonstrate to them that they were being heard? Perhaps you maintained eye contact, or nodded your head as they were speaking, or maybe you repeated what they were saying back to them as a way to show that you are processing the information and trying to understand it.
Now think about the last time you shared a story with someone else– How did they make you feel heard?
If you have ever engaged in any of these actions, you were engaging in Active Listening.
What is Active Listening?
Being an active listener means fully engaging in the process of listening to someone else speak with the intent to understand, learn, and respond effectively. It is a critical communication skill that goes beyond simply hearing the words that someone is saying.
Click here to learn more about what Active Listening is.
Where Active Listening and Facilitating Meet
Facilitation involves creating an environment where people can communicate openly, and active listening is a crucial part of that process. When you facilitate a conversation, you are essentially using these active listening skills to guide and encourage discussion among others.
Below are some tips & best practices for the role of the facilitator in your conversation campaign:
Embracing your unique facilitation style
Each facilitator has their own unique way of interpreting, understanding, and executing their facilitation skills. Develop a system that works for you.
- Think about the ways in which you have made space for others in conversations. Think about the way others have validated you and made you feel heard in conversations.
- Make the conversation guide your own. Make a copy of the guide and input your own natural voice into it.
Steering back to stories & lived experiences
Cortico conversations are about sharing personal experiences, not opinions. If someone starts to share an opinion, you can re-direct the conversation by:
- Validating what is being said and asking “Can you share an experience that led you to forming that opinion?”
How Embracing the Silence Helps participants
By embracing silence in conversations, facilitators create an environment that supports thoughtful and meaningful dialogue, ultimately leading to more productive and inclusive discussions.
Encourages Reflection and Thoughtfulness:
- Allows participants to process their thoughts and formulate meaningful responses.
- Gives participants time to reflect on the question or topic at hand.
Fosters a Safe and Inclusive Environment:
- Creates a space where participants feel comfortable taking their time to speak.
- Reduces pressure on participants to respond quickly, particularly important for introverted.
Allows for Processing of Complex Ideas:
- Particularly important for complex or emotionally charged topics, where participants may need extra time to gather their thoughts and emotions.
How embracing the silence helps you as a facilitator
Embracing silence as a facilitator provides valuable information and opportunities for effective facilitation. It allows facilitators to assess participant engagement, understanding, and emotional dynamics within the group, enabling them to adjust their approach and create a more inclusive and productive discussion environment.
Observing Nonverbal Cues:
- Allows the facilitator to pay attention to participants' body language, facial expressions, and gestures. This can provide valuable insights into their level of comfort, engagement, and understanding.
Adapting Communication Style:
- Provides time for the facilitator to adjust their approach based on the participants' responses. They can rephrase questions, offer more context, or provide examples as needed.
- Allows participants to take a moment to consider their own thoughts and feelings about the topic, which can lead to more genuine and thoughtful contributions. This is particularly important for complex or sensitive topics where participants may need more time to formulate their thoughts.
The Power of Checking in
- Use check-in questions to gauge how participants are feeling and ensure that they are being heard.
- You can also use this opportunity to invite the quietest voices in the conversation to share or respond to a question.
- “Kim, I noticed you nod your head when Alex was speaking, I wanted to invite you to add your thoughts or reflections on what she shared or anything the group said”
- Maybe you noticed that Kim has not shared a response yet or maybe she has been really quiet; “Kim, I want to make sure you have time to be heard before we move on to the next question, is there anything you’d like to share?”
- Maybe you scan around the room and realize the question might need to be re-asked or re-worded
- “Let me know if the question was clear or if you’d like me to rephrase it”
- Maybe people are unsure of how personal they can get with their responses or what they should share.
- If you have a response or can relate to the prompt being asked, give an example of how this resonates with you. This helps build the trust and comfort for the group