As a group facilitator in the Denver Metro Area, I am usually in a room with upwards of twenty people who are there because they disagree to a greater or lesser extent concerning the topic under discussion.  Often, despite ground rules, many decide to talk at once.  This makes for poor understanding and lessens the chance of any decisions being made.  Usually, over the years, I haven’t had the luxury of an amplification system.  So, when I speak as the process manager for the group, the members need to listen.  For some groups, an appeal to their sense of fairness and decorum may be enough.  At other times, more is needed.

Several years ago, I was tasked with facilitating a group of rural homeowners who lived on “ranchettes” (typically 5 or 10-acre horse properties) and representatives of a mining company wishing to expand its clay mining operations located on the other side of a steep ridge.  The purpose of the meeting was to allow the mining representatives to tell the nearby homeowners about their plans and to allow those neighbors to ask questions about the proposal and express their concerns with it.  The homeowners had the usual concerns about noise, dust, vibration, light pollution, hours of operation, and general disruption of their quiet, semi-isolated living environment.

Most of the residents of this community had resided there for many years and knew their neighbors well.  Some got along, and others did not.  Although they were united in their unease with the proposed change to the nearby mining operation, they were in some disagreement about what concerned each of them.  This resulted in continuing […]