My Account

If Facilitating Is Easy, Why Is There So Much Training?

The hardest part about helping someone is staying out of their way.

If Facilitating Is Easy, Why Is There So Much Training?

The Work of Byron Katie (4 Questions and Turnarounds) is a process that each of us has to do ourselves. It is a meditation. No one can meditate for us. Yet, it can be great to do The Work with another person who asks the questions and listens to your answers. 

This is called facilitation because it can “make it easier.” When someone asks the questions to you, you can simply let your focus go inside to find your answers. You don’t have to think about the process, just the experience that is coming up from inside.

I Sometimes Say Facilitation Is The Easiest Job In The World

And It’s true. Facilitation does not require that I know anything about the person’s problem or how to find any kind of solution for them. It doesn’t require study or expertise. It doesn’t even require previous experience dealing with the same issue. 

Instead, the role of a facilitator is simple: take notes as the person brainstorms to find what stressful thoughts are causing them stress in a specific situation, then ask the four questions and prompt the turnarounds and examples, and listen. The only other role of a facilitator is to notice if they stop answering the questions and then remind them which question they are answering.

If it sounds simple that’s because it is. It is a job of holding the space for someone and holding them in the process, nothing more. It is not the job of the facilitator to help the person have a breakthrough. That comes or doesn’t come from inside them. It is a process of self-discovery, not teaching, coaching, or therapy.

So If It’s So Simple, Why Is There So Much Training?

Byron Katie and the Institute for The Work offer courses for improving your facilitation skills. I’m planning one too. It will be called “The Work 102” (about spoken work) someday when I create it. 

But why all this training if it’s so simple?

The training is not for learning how to handle different situations or for gaining knowledge about different kinds of stresses people bring. Instead, the training is more about unlearning than about learning anything. 

What Needs To Be Unlearned?

The tendency of many of us is to want to help. We don’t want someone to suffer. Or we want to be a hero who saves the day. But The Work is self-inquiry. One finds one’s own answers inside oneself. A facilitator is just there to hold the space and to be a witness.

If I want to help, I can end up interfering with the person’s inner process. I interrupt the person’s meditation. So what has to be unlearned is the idea that their work has anything to do with me. 

This takes time. And the most effective means of letting go of this idea is to question all the motives that come up when facilitating:

I want them to have a good experience.
I want to be a good facilitator.
I need them to stop suffering.
I want them to be grateful for my help.
I want them to work with me again.
I want them to see what I’m seeing.

This Is What The Training Is For

When you question motives like these again and again in different situations where you are facilitating someone, you start to gain a new perspective. You start to see that where they go with their work is their business. You start to trust them and their wisdom. And you start to trust the four questions and turnarounds. 

Then, truly, facilitating becomes what it is meant to be: the easiest job in the world. Just sitting with a virtual chair pulled up to the fire of someone’s internal meditation process. Nothing could be more delightful.

But if there’s a motive to change them, or to save them, or to look good, then forget it. Then, facilitating (if you can call it that) is difficult indeed. You make it harder for them and for yourself at the same time.

The Heart Of The Training

Questioning motives and doing The Work is all that the training to be a facilitator entails. You can do this training anywhere with anyone, and the freedom deepens with practice. 

If you want to start the process, I invite you to take The Work 101 course. We do a lot of The Work and we question some motives from facilitating too. Join us.

Have a great week,

“When someone is facilitating The Work, giving the four questions, he’s receiving at another level what I originally received inside me. If he’s really facilitating from a neutral position, without any motive, then he’s in the place where I am on the other side. It just gains in its freedom. It’s in or out: unlimited.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

Further reading: When Do I Get to Shine?

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.