(General content note: A lot of my thinking has really changed since the old days of this blog. There’s some weird, mean, and polemic stuff in there.)
i’ve facilitated hundreds of hours of small-group discussion. this is a first pass, possibly totally impenetrable, of what i think i’m doing that matters most (for discussions that are around creating things–ambience, situations, events, artifacts–where it’s more important to do it right than to just get it done).
So I do these things (stream-of-consciousness):
status management and qualifiers: continual projection of humility-and-offering vs directing (through body language, voice tone, and qualifiers). “what about this? or this?”
acknowledging what people will inject before they do, to take the urgency out of it
i think most of the “magic” is in endless verbal qualifiers, uttered after/during infinitely searching out/modeling/empathizing things that might not be ok and things that might shut people down or turn them away and then fixing those things. sussing out awesomeness and the actual best thing:
“i’m not going to touch this during the week either,” “you don’t actually have to do this…” (and having arranged everything so it’s actually true)
vast field of (opinionated) ok-ness and possibility.
maybe not all of what i do actually matters, and i’m sure i still do things that turn people off.
continually hunting down things that close down possibility as they happen in real time and viciously opening them back up
re viciously tho deep modeling of the other person’s sense of possibility and how it might be narrowing or broadening in each moment
about what’s ok and not ok, what’s possible and not possible
what’s allowed and not allowed, what’s safe and not safe
and continually signaling about that
and sending out true signals that indicate you’re truly doing deep modeling of them, actually doing the work, and not saying fake platitudes
what has to happen and what doesn’t have to happen, what will have consequences and what won’t have any consequences at all
and trying to set things up so people expend zero time and effort that they find out later to have been unnecessary
and continually applying all these things to myself too, to actually produce the actual best possible thing and not a caricature of older, past things.