Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Facilitating inclusive conversations takes skill. Like anything, it’s developed over time. Before any facilitation occurs, it’s imperative that the facilitator know their why. Why is this work important to you? What is your intention and goal for this work?
Beyond that, you must also address your own biases. We all have biases. Major issues arise when biases are used to discriminate against and make judgements about others. Bias has a huge impact on citizens in the US and often infiltrates a number of systems including education, politics, criminal justice and education to name a few.
I worked with a group of Psychology Graduate Students recently who are planning to facilitate inclusive conversations on their campus as a part of a campus-wide initiative. My goal was to prepare them to engage in courageous conversations around the topic of race. The university's goal is to promote respectful, engaging conversations around difficult topics such as religion, race, and politics.
As I was reflecting on my own personal experiences as a facilitator, I came up with 21 Tips For The Inclusive Facilitator. I used the tips as a teaching tool which the students found helpful. The tips are based on my own personal perception which I own. I'm more than happy to elaborate on any tip provided here. I could have easily extended the tips to 50 but settled for 21. Let's begin!
1. Believe that racism and bias exists.
2. Recognize that your role is not to convince or persuade.
3. Process your own biases continuously.
4. Accept that you have not arrived and you probably never will. This is a journey.
5. Be your authentic self.
6. Acknowledge the intersectionality of people.
7. Set a positive tone for the interaction.
8. Know your pronouns and acknowledge the pronouns of others.
9. You don't need to know everything about every racial group but take the time to learn
about others and be open-minded.
10. Define the terms used to ensure clarity.
11. Create space for transformation by demonstrating active listening.
12. Accept that it doesn’t matter how much you talk or how many ways you explain something, some people won’t get it.
13. Clear your energy before you begin any courageous conversation.
14. Use appropriate terms for race and ethnicity.
15. Ask high curiosity questions to facilitate learning.
16. Set ground rules or create an engagement agreement to identify acceptable behavior during the discussion.
17. Develop a healthy coping mechanism that helps you deal with triggers when they arise.
18. Do not argue with anyone because you don't have to.
19. Plant good seeds.
20. Practice telling stories.
21. Destress after a tough conversation. Do something fun that you enjoy.
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