I always welcome the opportunity to co-facilitate. Almost without exception I work with some Smart Facilitationwonderfully talented people with much smarter facilitation skills than me.

It never ceases to amaze me how almost (that word again) on these occasions the delivery is seamless, it appears that this double act has been together for years.

We appear to naturally tap into complimentary skills, although of course there is discussion about who feels confident to deliver which parts of the workshop, how we can play to strengths, and with agreement we start and fall into a collaborative rhythm.

Not too long ago there was an exception. I was working with an individual in a small classroom it became fairly obvious very quickly that this room wasn’t going to be big enough to accommodate his ego.

Rather than ask about how individuals experienced and responded to difficult situations at work. He talked at people, disagreed with their view of the world, asked vague questions and then immediately rushed in with his own opinionated answers.

I felt as though I was in an episode of “The Office” co- facilitating with David Brent.

The body language of the audience began to leak signs of frustration, yet he continued oblivious to the disconnect.

I became the “glue” that was desperately trying to hold this group together.to generate discussion to find a spot of mutual interest. This felt awkward an internal battle began in my head it went like this:

Should I moderate my style so as not to bring attention to the obvious differences in facilitation styles?

Do I have a responsibility to turn this situation around, to generate engagement, to create an environment where learning takes place? (Hell Yes!)

Should I risk conflict with the individual by providing feedback?

These situations are rare in my experience yet I wonder if I have been fortunate enough to work with trainers/facilitators who are at the top of their game. My network is rich with experienced trainers and I thought I would ask:

  1. Is this a rare situation?
  2.  What would you have done?

I did provide feedback, there was no change. After a few months of reflection and only because this individual is still out there creating classroom crimes I’ve reconsidered what I might say if I ever have the misfortune to work with this individual again.

Never try to be the smartest person in the room. If you get the facilitation technique right then everyone around you will be smarter than you and that creates an environment where you are all smart together. Everyone in the room is already smarter than you in some way find ways to discover how and use collective smarts to create solutions.

Finally if you still think you are the smartest person in the room for gods sake find another room!

More tips for trainers? Read Managing the classroom challenger