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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

The Art of Facilitating Dynamic and Difficult Groups

Faculty: Donna Silverberg and Charles Wiggins

Increasingly, managers and conflict resolution professionals are being asked to serve as the "facilitator" of larger groups which are discussing difficult issues—often with difficult people. The success of this work, for the entire group, depends on the skills of the facilitator. Often, we take on this challenge without thinking through the complexities and nuances that could move our groups from dysfunctional to dynamic, one capable of making effective decisions in a timely manner. This course targets those professionals who work with—or hope to work with—groups charged with discussing and making decisions about difficult issues.

This course will be highly interactive, with specific examples from the instructors' experience, simulated role-plays augmented by expert feedback, and consideration of the latest practices that support successful group processes.

What you will learn:

  • How to assess the needs of your group
  • Tools to help build a successful team
  • Roles and responsibilities of a skilled facilitator
  • How to understand and facilitate successful negotiations
  • How to deal effectively with difficult group members
  • Strategies that support effective communication
  • Techniques that build and maintain cohesive group dynamics
  • Classic pitfalls to avoid

Donna Silverberg, the president of DS Consulting, has been in the field of mediation and facilitating consensus-building efforts involving nonprofits; businesses; local, state, federal, and tribal governments; and the public for more than 25 years. Her work has included a wide range of issues and groups addressing complex topics such as health care policy, endangered species, water quality, human resources, nonprofit board planning and management, land use management, multicultural interactions, and organizational development. She is an adjunct professor at Lipscomb University's Institute for Conflict Management and a visiting instructor at the University of Idaho.

Charles Wiggins is professor of law (retired) at the University of San Diego. He is also guest professor at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He received his JD from the University of California, Hastings, where he was editor-in-chief of the law review, and his LLM from Yale. He is past chair of the Dispute Resolution Section of the Association of American Law Schools. Wiggins maintains a private consulting practice, providing negotiation and conflict management training, and facilitation and mediation services, to businesses, governments, and nonprofit institutions throughout the world. Wiggins is a three-time Fulbright Scholar, and the coauthor of Negotiation and Settlement Advocacy (2nd ed.).