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Difficult participants

Sometimes you will have participants who have strongly opposing views. They end up by arguing with each other publicly. The other participants have very little to contribute in such bilateral debates and lose interest or get bored if this happens constantly. In this case, the facilitator must step in. It may be advantageous to suggest they go for a walk and discuss their differences, or simply talk about their families and hobbies while the rest of the participants work on the issue and show a possible resolution by the time they return. Or a separate time can be arranged for a bilateral meeting between these people during lunch or teatime. The facilitator should try to make sure that they meet for their discussions, as agreed, or maybe mediate the session. Otherwise they will continue to disrupt the group process. Possibly when they get a chance to air their views by themselves, without an audience, they will be able to resolve their problems.

There are some participants in a group who believe they “know better” than others. They want to draw attention or impress others and try to dominate the group processes whenever they can. If they remain unmanageable, then it is best to offer to set up an hour-long presentation session in the evening before or after dinner so that they can share their experiences. This should be an optional session for others to attend. The facilitator should arrange this in all seriousness and also attend. Even if no one except the facilitator turns up, the session should continue. Always remember, you are organizing the session not to embarrass this person, but rather to listen to what he or she has to share.

Sometimes a few participants may remain very quiet in group work and plenary. However, this does not necessarily mean they are not participating. By being in the group, laughing with others or listening to others they are with the team. It is best not to force them to talk if they choose to silently participate in the group process.

 
 
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