Conversation Facilitation

“We need to talk.”

When we say or hear this statement within the context of a personal relationship – be it with a spouse, an intimate partner, a sibling, a parent, or even a good friend, it usually carries with it a certain amount of heaviness, fear and anxiety. Unfortunately, many of us have experiences from our young life when this statement was followed by something painful so, when we now hear those words (or something similar), we can immediately pull back into a protective stance which makes it hard to listen and hard to problem-solve. What often prompts “we need to talk” conversations is a mismatch of one or more of the following:

  • Expectations
  • Styles
  • Values

Conversation facilitation can be a wonderfully helpful resource in these instances.

What is conversation facilitation?

The word “facilitate” literally means to make easy. A conversation facilitator is one who makes it easier for people to discuss that which feels hard or even un-discussable.

Conversation facilitation is different from traditional couples therapy in that it:

  • is open to two people in any type of relationship
  • targets immediate, practical needs to manage a conversation vs. exploring deeper patterns that might be driving behavior (though deeper exploration can be necessary and extremely beneficial at times)
  • does not require a commitment for a certain number of sessions to be scheduled at certain frequency
  • can be done in-person, via conference call, via video call

What circumstances would warrant the need for conversation facilitation and make it a worthwhile investment?

Conversation facilitation is used for relationships deemed as important to both parties and can be useful when:

  • a topic needs to be surfaced but one or both parties feel awkward or unsure how to initiate
  • there have been attempts to talk about this in the past but no productive outcomes were reached
  • the topic is one that is particularly sensitive, triggers emotions and/or creates feelings of vulnerability for one or both parties
Conversation facilitation has proven to be highly beneficial when relationships are:

  • relatively new or evolving thus needing some clarification or redefinition of expectations
  • confusing and struggling and needing some path to figure out what is needed now
  • moving into some sort of transition or ending and allowing an opportunity for the letting go and/or closure process be thoughtful, caring and complete