Advanced Facilitative Leadership workshop announced for 2024

Take an opportunity to learn about and practice using dialogue to work through conflict in groups.

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Would you like to increase your confidence and competence in facilitating and managing conflict-prone situations, while practicing the skills to encourage dialogue? Michigan State University Extension is offering its annual Advanced Facilitative Leadership: Navigating Your Way through Conflict workshop from June 25-27, 2024. This three-day event will offer opportunities to work on understanding yourself in high-heat situations, managing your emotions in the moment, and helping others work toward shared goals and greater understanding among group members.

Interactions with others who have differing positions on issues tend to become extremely polarized in today’s society. Groups who take on debate-style communication usually end up making either/or, win/lose decisions. Through this kind of process, group members tend to be thinking about how to respond to an argument rather than listening to understand opposing viewpoints.  When working in groups that face conflict, making decisions that end up where one side wins and the other loses risks damaged relationships and potentially limited outcomes.

If groups in conflict want to maintain productive relationships and are sincere about reaching decisions that meet multiple interests, adopting dialogue-based approaches are more likely to achieve win/win solutions. Group members in dialogue approach conflict with an attitude of curiosity about opposing positions. They recognize that strong emotional responses are not something to ignore, but acknowledge those emotions are a signal that the issue at hand is important to them. Questions are open-ended and nonjudgmental with the intent of gaining a deeper understanding of others’ lived experience.

How might a facilitative leader encourage a shift from debate-style to dialogue-style discussions? What do such leaders need to do to overcome their own personal tensions, defensiveness, or outright panic? Effective use of silence and breathing helps to center awareness of their own physical and emotional response in the moment. Facilitative leaders may also ask themselves the following questions:

  • How am I ‘reading into’ the group members’ intentions?
  • How do I know when I am starting to feel unsafe in a meeting space? What are those physical and emotional signals?
  • What am I seeing in others?

Embracing that anxiety and approaching the situation with curiosity may help to create options for the group to work through the emerging conflict.

Learn more

Michigan State University Extension’s Advanced Facilitative Leadership: Navigating Your Way through Conflict workshop will be held on June 25-27, 2024, at the Michigan Farm Bureau Headquarters in Lansing, MI. Some experience facilitating groups is strongly suggested as a prerequisite. The registration cost includes meals and all educational materials. Additional information and registration is currently available on the Advanced Facilitative Leadership website. Seats are limited, so sign-up today!

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