Is a Facilitation Course Right for Me?

Taking a facilitation course, or any community process course, is a great gift to your community and to yourself. The skills gained can dramatically improve the experience of living in community, reducing frustration and increasing the sense of trust and connection. Thus, I consider that a facilitation course is a great idea for any communitarian. The better question may be, “Is this the right time for me to take a facilitation course?”  Below are some things you might consider as you answer that question.  


Do I see a need for better process in our community?

Learning new skills takes work, and we are far more likely to do that work if we feel a need for it.  If your community makes decisions peacefully using meetings that are enjoyable, engaging and productive, there are probably other things you’d rather spend your time on. On the other hand, if you dread or avoid meetings because they are boring or contentious or you don’t feel everyone is being heard, or if proposals are getting stuck for months on end or members don’t make proposals because the process is too onerous, odds are good training could help.  Even better, as meetings and decision making improve, you will likely also see improvements in relationships more broadly.  


Do I have capacity? 

So you see a need in your community, but do you have the time and energy it takes to benefit from a course? For this kind of work, the energy required is both cognitive and emotional. Personal growth works alongside logistical skills.  Merely showing up to class won’t have a lot of community impact. You will also have to change how you interact with your community. If you have the capacity, or could gain it by giving up some of your more onerous community roles, I’m confident you will find the effort worthwhile.  On the other hand, if life tasks like parenting, caring for aging parents, paid work, or volunteer tasks are using all your resources, this may not be the right time for you to take on new learning. Keep in mind that sometimes the sense of overwhelm is driven by inefficient community process and stepping back from those things to focus on making the process better, is likely to be a long term win, even if it makes things messier in the short term. 


What if I don’t want to facilitate meetings?

Oddly, facilitation courses aren’t only for facilitators. A good course will also cover what it takes to be a good participant in community meetings and more broadly in the decision-making process. Skilled participants, even ones that never facilitate, always make things run more smoothly. They help facilitators be effective and support decision making and community relationships. The things you learn in a facilitation course could be the best gift you ever give your community, even if you never facilitate a meeting.  


Am I the right person? 

Maybe it seems like the person who needs this course is the one who disrupts community process in some way, or the person who facilitates most often. I won’t argue that it would be great for lots of other members to take a class like this, but in the end, you don’t have any control over them. My view is that the right person is the one who is willing and able to do it. Maybe you are the one who sees the need, or maybe you have more time, or maybe you just care more. Like many things in community, it’s important not to get so hung up on who should do it that we fail to do what we can. Even better, if you are planning to take the class, others may join you.  


Can I afford it? 

If you’ve read this far and you think you and your community would benefit from the course, don’t let money get in the way.  Wise communities offer some financial support for members to get this kind of training.  If that doesn’t cover your need, CohoUS offers group discounts and scholarships.  

The next Facilitation Course offered by CohoUS begins February 22, 2024.  Now is a great time to give the gift of better process to your community.

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