Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Part

The thing I find hardest about facilitating the Bi Women's Group is how I feel afterwards. I spend at least an hour wondering if I did a good job. Which is to say, I spend an hour off-and-on wondering if every person in the meeting had the best possible meeting she could have had, and should I or could I have done something differently to make that happen? Were everyone's needs met? Was it meaningful that this person or that person said so little? Did we talk about all the topics that people were burning to discuss? If it was a very talky group, should I have controlled it more closely? If it was a very quiet group, did I do everything I could have to spark conversation?

I've had this discussion with a couple of the other facilitators, and today,finally, with all of them. I've been told that I expect too much of myself and that the structure of the meeting doesn't really lend itself to controlling. It's "peer-facilitated" and everyone is responsible for speaking up if she has something to say. That's even in the guidelines we read at the start of every meeting. I have a hard time integrating that, though, and I feel especially responsible to new members or to members I perceive to be shy.

This week I had an experience which somehow is making me start to "get it." I know that I don't really feel this way yet, but something happening at the beginning and the end of the meeting that really feels like "People get the meeting they are willing to sit through." I don't have to be the one who changes the discussion to make sure we cover something someone mentioned, or to steer away from a topic that seems to be making people uncomfortable. I've been seeing that as my job, and I feel like I have consistently been unable to make that happen. There are so many unknowns in a meeting, with different personalities, moods, and needs, and the dynamics change all the time, and the meeting changes from week to week so it's just a fact of life that every meeting won't suit every person who attends.

Perhaps there's hope that I will eventually detach from feeling so responsible for others' experience. That's their part, not mine.

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