Strategies

Knowing when to go off-line

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At some meetings it becomes apparent that it would be beneficial for the facilitator to meet with a person or persons off‐line, at a time and place separate from the group meetings. Below are some circumstances that might prompt this action:

  • A key participant expresses a need that is both important to him or her, and seems highly relevant to the objectives of the initiative. In this case, the facilitator might want to work separately with this participant (and, perhaps, a small group) to develop specifics that might become part of the eventual package of givebacks for the entire group to consider. In the interest of ruthless transparency, it is best to acknowledge the outside conversation when presenting the idea to the larger group.
  • Some people are invited to attend meetings because of their stature within a particular segment of the community; but their position may not be recognized or accepted by many participants. If the facilitator notices that the person is not being recognized or honored by other participants—and if it’s unclear why the person was recommended for inclusion—the facilitator will want to get to know this person better outside the group in order to understand the individual’s role and sphere of influence and impart a sense of respect and validation for him/her.
  • Some people behave problematically in meetings, and the facilitator might meet with them off‐line to get to know them better, to learn about the reasons for their behavior, and to signal that he or she is comfortable working with them.
  • Some people initiate the request to meet with the facilitator outside the group. Depending on the subject matter, the facilitator decides whether the conversation should be brought back into the group.

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