I am often contacted by organizations and individuals to moderate meetings and discussions in which the progress toward a mutual goal has been derailed. There are endless reasons why this happens. Sometimes the parties have hotly contested opinions over the “right” approach. Other obstacles might be financial considerations that would affect the implementation of methods to move forward.

How Does Facilitation Work

Facilitation is process oriented. As a facilitator, I am neutral. My job is to lead the parties through four basic steps:

  • Step 1: Summarize the overall goal(s) of the organization or individuals
  • Step 2: Summarize the differences that have led to the current impasse.
  • Step 3: Clarify the reasoning processes used by each side to arrive at their positions.
  • Step 4: Brainstorm different ways for the parties to reach their common objective(s).

What are the Similarities and Differences Between Facilitation and Mediation?

Both facilitators and mediators are impartial. Facilitated conversations and mediations can be highly contentious and emotional. However, facilitations are better suited for situations in which both sides are trying to achieve a mutual goal. In a mediation, the parties may not have mutual goals and are often trying to settle a dispute in order to avoid litigation. While facilitation and mediation are both methods of dispute resolution, the parties in a mediation tend to have reached a higher degree of acrimony. Both facilitation and mediation can result in a written agreement which memorializes the points of resolution. But a mediation agreement, often referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), is seen as the basis for a legal and binding contract.