Process for Disruptions in Meetings

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Facilitation of Meeting Disruptions

Ambrose Desmond – OWS

Here is a suggested process for facilitating meeting disruptions. I believe that a part of the mistrust of facilitation comes from the way we have let people take over meetings when most of the group wanted to continue with the process. I believe another problem has been the way we have tried to use our own authority in moments we could have appealed to the will of the group.

Overview:

  1. Create community agreements.
  2. If someone goes off process, use straw poll to ask the group whether they want to hear them or continue with previous business.
  3. If they want to hear them, let them speak and use straw poll to test whether their concern is shared by group.
  4. If the concern is shared, use straw poll to see if group wants to discuss this concern or more back to its previous business.
  5. If someone continues to disrupt after a clear consensus that the group doesn’t want to give them time, use a straw poll to see whether the group considers this a disruption, reminding them people can be asked to leave fo repeated disruptions.

In detail:

  • At the beginning of the meeting:
    • Create a list of community agreements through brainstorming. Staying on process will always come up.
    • Ask permission to check in with the whole group if someone starts going off process by saying, “If someone goes off process, I’ll check in with you to see if you want to continue with the process or hear them. If you decide to hear them, I’ll check in to see if their concern is shared and whether you want to discuss it. Is that OK?”
    • When someone starts going off process
      • Do not try to use your authority as facilitator to get them to stop.
      • Acknowledge they want to speak by saying, “I hear you really want to speak right now. Let me check in with the group to see if that’s OK.”
      • Do a straw poll by saying. “Here are two options. Option one is we let this person speak. Option two is we continue with the process we were having. How many are for option one? How many for option two?”
        • If less than 10% of groups want to hear the person say, “It seems like the groups wants to continue with their process right now. Someone from facilitation support can hopefully help you find a time to speak.” Have a support person come talk with them about a more appropriate venue.
        • If more than 10% of groups want to hear them, let them speak. Listen actively and try to ascertain their concern or what they want the group to do differently. Once you understand their concern or suggestion, use straw poll to ask the group how many people share this concern.
          • If less than 10% shares the concern say, “It looks like there is not a lot of support for this concern.” Then temp check going back to previous business.
          • If there is more than 10% say, “It looks like there is some support for this concern.” Use a straw poll to determine if the group wants to shift the meeting to discussing the concern. There will be some shared concerns that don’t need to be discussed.
  • If someone continues to disrupt after a clear consensus that the group doesn’t want to give them time, use a straw poll to see whether the group considers this a disruption, reminding them people can be asked to leave fo repeated disruptions.

 

 

 

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