Groupwork Centre Blog

Embracing discomfort on our facilitator’s journey

At the midway point of our revamped advanced facilitation program,

Henry Fowkes reflects on the learnings – for participants and educators

We’ve just completed the third module in our Advanced Facilitation Course, and what a journey it’s been. The setting for this immersive experience was the earthy CERES in Melbourne, a backdrop that perfectly complemented the deep explorations we undertook during these three days together.

This module marked a significant milestone in our hybrid 5-month advanced course – a course that has evolved and adapted in response to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Our focus was the intricate dynamics of conflict, rank and power within groups. As we embarked on this exploration, I began by quoting these words from Brene Brown:

“We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both at the same time.”

These words served as a guiding light throughout our journey, challenging us to confront a crucial question: Are we willing to embrace discomfort? Discomfort not only in our observations of group dynamics but also within ourselves. Can we, as facilitators, cultivate the capacity to find comfort in the uncomfortable?

Our journey began with the practice of deeply listening to others. It’s easier said than done, considering our tendencies to reactively try and fix, defend or rescue others  – responses often driven by our own discomfort. Instead we took the courageous leap into the uncertainty of just being with another.

On day two we built on these deep listening skills, to embark on a curious exploration of our relationship with rank and power – another often uncomfortable topic to unearth. We delved into the moments we felt powerful and powerless, and the complexities of earned and unearned power.

We always remind people that in the role of the facilitator there lies a great deal of structural power. In knowing this, how do we then choose to use this power? Power over or power with?

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