Difficult and emotional conversations greatly benefit from having a neutral facilitator help participants work collaboratively and effectively together to address and resolve topics. Facilitation helps to create a safe spaces for individuals or groups to discuss challenging issues with sensitivity and respect.

Bellingham Mediation & Consulting assists organizations, businesses and academic institutions by designing and facilitating meetings, retreats, strategic and difficult discussions, and listening sessions; and providing written summary reports.  Sheri Russell maintains neutrality and objectivity while ensuring an effective and efficient process of discussing the issues or creating a structured and safe space for individuals to share their thoughts and concerns, and to feel heard.

Some recent facilitations include:

  • A work group conflict affecting productivity and performance
  • A board of directors divided on which programs to eliminate and how to scale back others in a budget crisis
  • An academic institution struggling with high emotions following a racial controversy
  • A group of employees needing to voice their concerns on an issue and how it affected them
We had a big, complicated problem at our workplace and Sheri came to the rescue! She created a hybrid ‘facilitated discussion-communication training-resolution plan’ to address the many issues, emotions and personalities involved. The 2-hour session with 14 employees, a union representative and an HR administrator ended with the employees asking Sheri to stay and continue. This then resulted in an incredibly helpful and necessary 4½ -hour session that resolved the issues and created mutual agreements going forward. – HR Manager

Facilitation services are custom-tailored to meet the objectives of the meeting, and may include helping participants:

  • Define the purpose of the meeting
  • Create and adhere to ground rules and timelines
  • Identify, prioritize and focus on agenda issues
  • Distinguish process from content issues
  • Model active listening
  • Uncover underlying interests and needs
  • Distinguish facts from assumptions
  • Provide safe space for listening and feedback
  • Generate options and brainstorm pros and cons
  • Identify necessary additional and/or objective information
  • Provide practical tools to improve communication, respect and collaboration
  • Maximizing and encouraging full participation
  • Create shared expectations, plans and/or agreements
  • Affirm the contributions and wisdom of each individual and the collective work of the group
  • Continually evaluate and modify the format as needed

Bellingham Mediation & Consulting maintains the utmost confidentiality with regard to all its cases and clients.