Bringing diverse stakeholders together in a way that enables them to work effectively on their “stuck” issues is essential to what we do. While group members may be committed to the convening question, they may not agree on what the actual issue is, what is causing it, or what should be done about it.
As facilitators, we need to create a safe and nurturing space for people to begin to find common ground, build trust and respect, and develop relationships, not only at a professional but at a personal level. One way to begin this process is by helping people share their stories about why they care about the issue.
Connecting at a “heart level” moves people from the advocating and debating space to a more empathetic and compassionate place. While this exercise appears simple, it actually takes careful preparation and caretaking of the group to be successful.