Intuition – a guide for facilitators

There’s an excellent post, The Intuitive Facilitator, over at the FacilitatorU blog. If you’ve ever found yourself thinking or saying “I wish I’d gone with my instinct’ or ‘I  knew I should have done that differently’ then I’d strongly suggest you read it. For the time-limited here’s my highlights:

“As a facilitator, intuition helps me assess the group processes, determine when to change its direction or my approach, guides me to helping the group move forward, leads me to ask the tough questions, gives me insight into what the group may need or how and where the group may be going. Ignoring my intuition usually results in inflexible processes and results…

When I work with individuals or groups I prepare carefully everything that is needed, but then I let it go. When I start working I am focused on the other(s), what happens to them, between them, and in relation to myself. At the same time, I am self-aware, grounded and relaxed. The interventions I make based on my intuition sometimes surprise me. Afterwards I try to understand how I came to this intervention and how effective it was…

Sometimes the gut feel is misinformed. So part of using intuition is to carefully listen for feedback after I’ve taken action, to see if I’ve done something wrong”

and a checklist for improving intuition:

  • “Don’t judge, don’t assume. Be open, listen, pause and check in, reflect, be more aware of your own responses, feelings, and inner sensations.
  • Be open, patient, and set aside your ego as best you can. The more you practice trusting, acting upon, and assessing the results of using your intuition, the more powerful this resource will become. But the key is trust and believing.
  • Incorporate internal practices such as meditation, affirmations, surrender, and loving and trusting yourself and your inner promptings.
  • Acting on your intuition often requires that you take a risk sharing something or doing something for whose purpose you don’t quite understand. This takes courage. You can get better at this by practicing releasing your need to be right, and/or give yourself permission to be wrong!
  • I often ask my clients to imagine that their intuition has shape, form and texture, and then describe it in detail; what does it sound like, where do they feel it in their body; what color is it; what is the texture, temperature and tone? I encourage them to keep track of their intuitive ‘hits’, to pay attention to when and where they show up. It isn’t about proving it right or wrong, but about developing the skill of subtle perception.
  • Become an intensely active listener, on all levels. Listen beyond the words. Listen to tone, notice body language patterns, degrees of engagement, listen to the buzz in the room. Pay attention to what is working for a group and what’s not. Risk going “off script” every once in a while and notice what happens. When you notice a feeling in your gut, check it out with your group or with someone your trust. Eventually, you’ll learn what feelings to respond to, and which you can ignore.”

There’s plenty more where this came from. I really appreciate this grounding of intuition in active listening. It’s obvious but not always articulated. Yet another reason to work on that listening! For me intuition is about giving myself permission to listen to my own emotional state – not something I’ve always done as a facilitator because I’ve been striving for an impartial state, which has its uses. But it’s something I’m playing with more and more and finding it surprisingly helpful, and accurate.