For some decision-making processes, you may need a neutral facilitator to guide constructive discussion. As public and group facilitators our primary responsibility is to encourage participative learning and mutual problem solving in a confidential non-judgmental climate. An atmosphere of this kind encourages creative expression instead of submission, dependence and repression. It fosters freedom of opinion and dissent, and the feeling that one has the right to be wrong. Members are at liberty to express ideas and attitudes without fear of hostile criticism and isolation, but they are discouraged from relying only on "tried and true" methods of problem solving.
Our materials and activities are grounded in classic community development and adult education theory and technique. A few of the guiding principles include:
- Participation can be increased through the use of small group activities.
- Conflict in a group can be a useful tool to develop understanding.
- Consensus is built gradually through working discussions.
- Adults participate most fully when discussion is structured by ground rules but open to each of the participants' diverse perspectives.
- The role of the facilitator is neutral and includes the use of techniques such as active listening, paraphrasing and summarizing to keep the group on task and to maintain relationships within the group.