Learning to Facilitate

Last semester I applied to become a trainer for Ohio University’s SafeZone program. SafeZone is a training, which “focuses on inclusive language, sensitive dialogue as well as developing the skills to open the pathways of communication with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA) people” (Ohio University N.D). I believe that in order to make a difference in your community you need to stop wishing things will change and be a part of the solution, which is the reason I wanted to be an educator with this program. Beyond becoming a facilitator for a cause I am passionate about, I am pleased to say that this training helped me to discover traits about myself that will help me as I work through the MPA program and apply for jobs. Virginia Martin (program coordinator for the LGBT Center and the Women’s Center) did an outstanding job organizing this workshop in order to make sure we are prepared to lead these trainings.

The first half of the workshop was dedicated to becoming a better facilitator and was presented by Christian Matheis. This section was particularly fascinating to me because it built upon the lessons I have been learning in my Qualitative Research Methods Class. On Thursday in my Qualitative Research class, Dr. Holly Raffle discussed the importance of Reflexivity, which “generally involves critical reflection on how [a] researcher, research participants, setting and research procedures interact and influence each other” (Glesne, 2011). We discussed how important it is for researchers to be aware of our biases so that we can maintain the integrity of the study. During our facilitating training, Christian started with the same concept, however he took the conversation in a different direction and broke down styles of communication and how those differences could make, or break the session.

I wrote last week about my consulting experiences and how I need to work on being less direct. I discovered, during Christian’s presentation, that it is not my directness that I need to work on, it is my style of communication. I am a very low-context communicator. This means that I “speak directly, voice criticism, value time and efficiency, views conflict and direct persuasion as powerful and say what I think” (McGraw, C & Matheis, C. 2009). Practicing my reflexive work, having the understanding that my communication style is not compatible with everyone and making that adjustment will ensure that I am doing my part to make the session/interview more productive.

I came into this semester knowing that I was going to be introduced to all new subject matter; I just had no idea that there was going to be so much self-discovery along the way. I am consistently amazed how my experiences in the classroom are enriching my community activities. Because I can see the benefits in my extra curricular activities, I can only imagine how prepared I am going to be when I am interviewing for a job in the real world!

Glesne, C. (2011). Becoming qualitative researchers: An introduction. (4 ed., p. 151). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

McGraw, C. & Matheis, C. “Communication Star” (2009).


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