The best professional facilitators have a certain skill set that makes them the ideal person to bring in when a resolution to a conflict needs to be achieved. To be a great facilitator, you need to be proficient in:

Listening

The ability to listen and truly hear what participants are saying is what distinguishes a good group facilitator from a great one. Every person in the group you facilitate will have their own perspective and opinions about the issue, and you must take steps to make sure that every one of those opinions are heard. Listen carefully and respond by summarizing the opinions to ensure that you are able to adequately represent each position throughout the session.

Neutrality

As human beings, it is very hard to stay neutral, especially once you begin to feel like you know the participants on each side of a conflict. However, this is the one area where a meeting facilitator must never waiver. You must stay completely neutral, leaving your personal opinions and agenda at home. You must be fair to all of the participants by allowing everyone the opportunity to share and by setting ground rules from the beginning.

Responsiveness

There will be times in your career as a certified professional facilitator when a group will begin to discuss topics that are not relevant to reaching a resolution for the problem at hand. You must be able to recognize when your group begins going off topic and gently guide them towards moving forward and achieving resolution. Part of this will be identifying problematic personalities that may derail the conversation or try to dominate it. The rules you set to ensure neutrality will be helpful when these individuals begin to derail things.

Decisiveness

A corporate facilitator must be decisive at all times and use their decisive nature to keep the group action-oriented towards the goals they are trying to achieve. This does not mean that you and the group will always solve the whole problem that you are addressing in a single sitting; instead, it means that you will make notable progress because you will keep the focus on making the right decisions instead of hashing over problems that don’t matter in the long run.

Keep your progress in everyone’s mind by encouraging the group to recognize the progress that has been made, the contributions people have made and to offer their own closing statements as the session ends. Close by mapping out the next steps the group will take, whether that’s another session with you or the group’s action plan.