Published: August 27, 2016   Updated: September 16, 2016

What is something that can make or break a facilitation? Sam Killermann shares how bringing shame into a space can break a facilitation and how leaving shame out of the conversation can help that your participants feel more willing to open up and share in risky ways.


  • invite people to share
  • react in ways that affirm risk
  • never (ever) shame a participant

To check out more of Sam’s facilitation work and creative projects for global justice head here.


Question: What is something that can make or break a facilitation?

sK: “With facilitation so much of what makes a facilitation go well vs. go horribly is building a genuine connection with the group that you’re facilitating. And one of the things that leads to that happening really well is people knowing that you aren’t going to make them feel ashamed of themselves for not knowing something.

Making people feel willing to share in risky ways where they are not sure if they are saying the right thing and making people know that no matter what they say you’re still going to appreciate them as a person, you’re not going to think they are a bad person. And the way you can do that is just right at the beginning saying, “I won’t think less of you if you say the thing that you think is wrong. I am not going to make you feel ashamed of yourself.” You can say it.

You can also show it, by if someone is saying something and in the beginning you can tell they are nervous. By not letting the slightest bit of judgement into your eyes or into your speech, thanking them for sharing. All of those little ingredients that lead to a space truly being as shame-free as possible, or at least so they know you as a facilitator aren’t going to bring shame into the space… just by it self that element can lead or can make or break any facilitation.

Doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, bringing shame into the conversation is not going to be helpful.”

Written by FacilitatingXYZ Team

This is the account that the FacilitatingXYZ team uses. FacXYZ is co-facilitated by Meg and Sam, and brings in expertise, knowledge, and lived experience from facilitators far and wide. Read more about us here.

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