Roleplaying in the advanced facilitation course

I’m enjoying the advanced facilitation course, but I yearn for a deeper sense of connection (empathy) with the various roles presented in the scenarios. For example, at this past session (on 11-28) we had a scenario that involved objecting to the selection of a circle member into the secretary role, where the person objecting was telling a story that the proposed secretary had a history of being overly detailed in their note-taking. From my perspective we (in my practice group) struggled to identify who would take on each of the scenario roles, and then we further struggled to fill in the details of the scenario to a degree where we could empathize with the proposed secretary, and others.

I can imagine a few possible strategies for quickly sharing some scenario details, and I’m curious what you think about these and what you might add. One idea is that our practice group could establish some context before launching into the scenario. (Is the proposed secretary aware of the level of detail in their notes, and if so, why do they value it? Why does the objector dislike this style? If the proposed secretary is going to fall into the “victim” role of the drama triangle, what about their history might inform that?) Another idea might be to have a roleplaying session at the beginning of each course session that helps to provide background for each scenario right up to the point of conflict, and then the practice groups could break out and take it from there.

For filling in the details ourselves, I’ve been wanting to consider two levels of facilitation within each practice group. The top level of facilitation would exist outside of the roleplay, and would help structure the roleplay. This facilitator would help establish this scenario context, select people into functional roles at the practice level (such as a timekeeper), and select people into roleplaying roles for each scenario. Perhaps we would choose different names for the roleplaying in order to keep clear what state we’re working in with any given interaction.

What do you all think about these ideas?


In some way, I think it is part of the game:

  • the breakout rooms had a different composition from the first lesson
  • our life experiences are different and we can’t play all roles with the same accuracy (we come from different countries and different cultures)
  • for people like me, who learned English in business contexts, it is also a problem of vocabulary and expressiveness

So I think that in general it is difficult to totally avoid this kind of issues.

Your proposals could be steps in the right direction.

On another level, we are supposed to learn how to facilitate, indipendently from our integration in the team we are facilitating. So it is an interesting exercise in the direction of the “clear enough” mantra that Ted is adding to “good enough and safe enough”: perhaps we were too sure of having understood and of having the same understanding: too much time spent in exploring and deciding, without being sure of clearly understanding the issue.

Thanks for your feedback and this occasion of reflecting on the process, John.


Hello John,

I understand what you are saying because in all the groups I was, there were such difficulties which I think come from the lack of details in relation to the scenario.

I think that filling in the unknown data is somehow part of the game and puts us in the situation of making the transition from a vague scenario to a concrete situation.

It is true that it is easier to imagine something on our own, but the scenarios we have been in are like the life itself. Sometimes we lack the details and instead of asking questions we end up making assumptions, including in our meetings.

I guess that realizing what we lacked in these scenarios and what perceived as being difficult, will help us become more agile in the “ordinary” situations of facilitation that we will go through in the real situations, in which it is assumed that we all know how we got to that situation and yet, even in real situations, not all things are said and as facilitators we should have the dexterity to bring to light the unsaid things that could bring the necessary clarifications to make informed decisions.

Yes, the scenarios were some “dramas” not only from the point of view of the scenario, but also of the time. Also, in real life, it is assumed that the members of the circle have given their consent to work together, and in the case of events of this kind, we must succeed in working with anyone, regardless of culture, profession, personal options, and even with people for whom English is not their native language (first language) as I am.

The fact that we ask ourselves questions, become aware of things and go through often uncomfortable situations in which we may even get stuck, forces us to expand our consciousness, to deepen our understanding and to become more agile in our discernment.

Regardless of the role assumed in the scenario, we probably all thought about what it would be like to facilitate that meeting and we had something to learn.

I think everyone has gone through difficult situations or felt blocked or lacked the necessary inspiration, but ultimately that’s part of the training - going through situations that are exaggerated from many points of view, including the lack of clarity.

As facilitators, we must be aware that we are undertaking a mission in which we do not have a complete script of the action until the end. We are forced to participate in the writing of the book, not just to read it.

I went through situations similar to the ones you described, so I appreciate the assertiveness of bringing these aspects to the discussion table. After all, we are more trained, and more perceptive, aren’t we?

I thank you for this topic and I also send my best regards to all those who just read our comments. :wave:

I do agree that the richer the contextual detail of character and situation the deeper the inhabitation of the role can be, and the richer the harvest

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