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A Secret Weapon for Facilitators of Fatherhood Programs

Posted by Christopher A. Brown

Picture this scene. You're facilitating a fatherhood program--perhaps National Fatherhood Initiative's 24/7 Dad® program (wink, wink). Several of the dads rarely if ever speak up. You desperately want to know their thoughts and get them engaged with the program. What do you do?

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Use a secret ballot to make it safe for them to share.  

One of the challenges in facilitating a fatherhood program is group think--the tendency to follow the crowd and not offer a different or dissenting opinion. The social influence exerted by the group can create an environment that hinders sharing of such opinions--a safe environment that nurtures emotional intimacy.

On the other hand, a group, with the help of a skilled facilitator, can nurture sharing of such opinions. A skilled facilitator has a set a tools they can draw from to create a safe environment for emotional intimacy. The secret ballot is one such tool. When you ask a question, for example, ask dads to write their responses on a piece of paper and place the responses in something like a hat, cup, or can. Then read their responses aloud. (Alternatively, you could ask one of the dads to read them or pass the responses around and have each dad read one of them until the dads have read all the responses.) Hopefully, the responses will reveal different and, possibly, opposing answers.

When the answers do so, make sure the dads grasp that the answers are different and opposing and ensure them that it's okay to share their thoughts even if they differ from or disagree with the thoughts of other dads in the group.

To add to your set of facilitation tools, I encourage you to register for our online, on-demand Effective Facilitation Certificate™ training. The training will help you become an even better facilitator, one with a range of tools at the ready to respond to the challenges that are inevitable when facilitating a fatherhood program. For more information and to register, click here.   

How complete is your facilitation tool belt? 

Are you ready to become an even better facilitator? 

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Are you a dad looking for help? Please visit our Fatherhood Program Locator™ and enter your city and state on the map to find programs and resources in your community.

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