Facilitation Skills: Dealing with Difficult People


As a facilitator, you will often come across dysfunction and difficult people.  Your role is to stay calm and redirect the to issue at hand.  In order to be aware of the types of difficult people you may come across, we will discuss them today.

1.The Mummy

  • This person will not freely take part in discussions. The motivation might be indifference, an inferiority complex, confusion about the issues or process, or a feeling of superiority.
  • What should you do?  Be patient and ask direct questions to this person!

2.The Windbag

  • This person comments too frequently and tends to dominate discussions. He/She also tends to be the first to speak on each issue.
  • What should you do? Target questions to other members by name! Establish limits to number of responses!

3.The Rambler

  • This person will often get off track in his remarks, misses the point, or uses far-fetched examples to make a point.
  • What should you do? Provide gentle reminders about sticking to the agenda and ask for short answers!

4.The Homesteader

  • A person who takes an initial position and is highly reluctant to budge or consider other viable alternatives.
  • What should you do? Overwhelm this person with facts.  Also, give the person a graceful way out with an alternative.

If you can’t remember anything about these types of people, remember these two things:

Rule #1: A facilitator ALWAYS remains neutral, objective and fair.

Rule #2: Reread Rule #1!

The moment you stop being neutral and take sides, you no longer are the facilitator. You’re just another person running a meeting.

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