Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Welcome to Facilitation Stories, where we discover how facilitators ended up in the profession, and how facilitation methods, principles and techniques are used more widely. Brought to you by IAF England and Wales. For more information on our chapter, click here.

May 10, 2022

In today’s episode Pilar talks to facilitator Paul Kelly.  He’s going to be running two sessions at the IAFEW Re-Facilitation conference on 13th-14th May 2022 in Birmingham and online. His first session will be on “Collaborative Consensus”and the second will be a facilitated discussion around neurodiversity.

(A note to readers on the website: we have some gremlins playing around with our text here. Apologies while we sort it out, and oh the irony given the topic of this episode...)

Paul first talks about how he got into facilitation and then about his interest in Neurodiversity. 

"Neurodivergent" is used to describe a variety of conditions and Paul emphasises that having conversations with people, allows sessions to be more inclusive.

Paul shares some of the ways that people might engage differently from the starting point is that we all have different ways to interact with the world. 

When facilitating, sometimes simple things can make a difference.  This can include thinking about how to reduce anxiety for example by sending a photograph of yourself or the venue in advance so people know what to expect.   With slides using off-white slides and using straightforward fonts and thinking “less is more”.  Asking one question at a time is important and thinking about sensory overload including what you’re wearing, both clothing and fragrance.

Sometimes it’s about talking to someone about the adaptations they use to allow them to work the way they want to work.  Paul always asks in advance if there is anything that can be done in to make a session more accessible and allows more than one way of working.

Paul talks about the approach to his session at the conference and the link between neurodiversity and social dynamics.  Paul describes that some people see it as their superpower, for others they may term it as an inhibitor, for example being in distracting environments or experiencing challenges with social cues.  When it comes to employment, employers need to understand the value of having people who think differently in an organisation.

Pilar asks Paul how facilitators can address the topic with direct clients.  This can depend on the relationship but Paul suggests not assuming a client will understand neurodivergence.  In which case starting with open questions and saying it’s OK not to know and to ask about the right terminology.  He also talks about having conversations with clients but respecting confidentiality.  Paul suggests offering an advance conversation with participants but then also observing the room and any adjustments once working with a group.  

Paul closes with a reminder that it’s not possible to get everything 100% right for everyone but it’s about being willing to listen, adjust and sometimes to risk getting it wrong.



If you’d like to attend the conference on 13th and 14th May you can register here:

Details of the programme are here:

You can find out more about Paul Kelly through his website 

And on Twitter he is @PANDEK_Group

Connect with Pilar on Twitter: @PilarOrti