Facilitation always throws up situations that challenge our current knowledge. We do our best to navigate these challenges at the time and, to learn the most from the experience, it helps if we can debrief after the event with either a support person (who will have been there) and, if the challenge is especially unusual, with a reference person.

In the RC Communities we expect to have these extra resource people to hand. In our wide-world communities these resources are much less common and that is a gap that needs fixing. You can get a sense of the scale of that gap as you read on and imagine how it would work for you were you to have these resources to hand.

Laying in these resources is a contradiction 1 to our general tendency to do challenging work on our own and, as a result, risk getting to ‘I give up’ or even burning-out whilst also leaking out ‘un-booked sessions’ on our nearest and dearest about how difficult it all is.

So, contradict that isolation by recruiting and training a support person or, better still, a bevy of these to ensure you have cover at all times.

Remember that you are gifting these good people 2 a training which will significantly enhance their own capacity for facilitating and taking leadership as time goes on.

Here is their job description: –

  1. To reach out to us before the event and give us think and listen time during which we think about the event design and also process any feelings we might have about it – we may or may not invite our support person to participate in the design and we may or may not invite them to participate in the facilitation (this all depends on how practiced they are as designers and facilitators themselves).
  2. To be with us during the event (within sight and maybe even closer if the event allows for that) ready to give us their approval and to provide think and listen time when necessary – again, in advanced groups these think and listens might take place in plain sight whilst in more formal groups these might take place in private during breaks.
  3. To be ready to take over should we become incapacitated or diverted in any way.
  4. To look out for people who are restimulated and therefore likely to be disruptive – this may require that the support person invites the restlimulated person to exit the event for a while and go with the support person to vent their feelings (this works best in situations when the group knows that an executive meeting is not the place for heated exchanges – and it works even better if the group also knows that, should the support person deem the upset valid and that the facilitator/leader has made a mistake, the support person will feed this back to the facilitator at a private moment so that the facilitator can offer an apology for their error when an opportunity to do so shows up).
  5. To debrief the facilitator/leader with a think and listen after the event that should start with asking them to speak to ‘what did you do well’ and ‘in what way did what you did make things go better’ and other questions designed to invoke self-appreciation (this is to contradict the all too common tendency for us to self-criticize).

Note that the activity coming next is for you to find a person from our course cohort who will act as your support person for an event you will ‘design’ before the next class.

  1. The notion of a contradiction is a core idea in RC. It sometimes take us a while to understand what a contradiction is so, whenever we get the chance to use an example in the course, we’ll note it and seek to explain why it is a contradiction. By this means the idea (and utility) of a contradiction might become ever clearer.
  2. Good people – the criteria is how well they can subordinate their own needs for the duration of the time required to function as your support person. That is, their attention needs to be on you and making sure that you are in good shape and have adequate thinking and processing time to show up well in the meeting/event.

    Not so many people have this capacity at all and, even those that do can lose this capacity when contingencies are upon them. Do your best to avoid ‘hiring’ the first group unless you sense that, with training they will develop the competence and attention needed and, for the second group, note that you can always give your support person some session time to ‘take the top off’ before getting down to work.

    We can also note that, in many of our current cultures women are generally much better at being support people than men. It is an inherent part of parenting in which the parent frequently subordinates their own needs in order to provide sustenance and attention for the children. As we know, most parenting, especially of younger children, is done by women. Cultural expectations, conditioning and education do more to prepare women for this role than men.

    However, our post-modern, on-the-way-to-ending sexism and gender stereotyping insights, show us that men are just as capable of being good, attentive, subordinated parents (support people) as women, given the chance to discharge any feelings that come up around following another (young) person’s agenda and leaving your own behind for the time being. At the same time, we also know that well-discharged women are entirely capable of significant, focused and potent operational, strategic and visionary leadership.

    From these places of knowing we could propose, as a meta-contradiction, that every man should learn how to and practice being a support person (to women and to other men) and that women should be relieved, as much as possible, from this role so that they have the time, space and support to lead our societies.