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Episode 137

November 3rd, 2021

137: Creating space for inner connection with Jonathan Hefter

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    Circles are everywhere: in nature, our biology, our art. There’s something sacred and special about them. So what happens when we introduce them to our facilitation practice?

    This week, I dive into ‘circle’ facilitation with Jonathan Hefter, the Head of Experience Design, Facilitation, & Training at

    We start by setting a mutual understanding of great facilitation; before diving into the complexities of holding judgements, learning to listen and centre others, and the physical and metaphysical power of gathering in circles; before coming full circle to the tools and tricks great facilitators can use to explore circle workshops.

    We cover a lot of deep and challenging topics, but Jonathan has a way with words that makes the entire conversation feel easy and accessible. It’s no wonder he’s finding so much success with!


    Find out about

    • Defining facilitation and what best practice looks like in circle workshops
    • What it means to measure and balance energy and flow in a workshop
    • How to help participants own their experiences rather than framing their best-guesses as informed advice
    • Why circles – as a physical arrangement and a facilitation practice – can be so effective at unlocking deep connection and conversation
    • The impact technology can have on our conversations without us realising
    • What the difference is between vulnerability and openness

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    Questions and Answers

    01:14When did you start calling yourself a facilitator? 02:11What’s the difference between a facilitator, a moderator, a consultant, and a guide? 06:29What are the key skills that make a good facilitator? 08:29How do you distinguish “energy” and “flow”? 16:45How can we work on ourselves to avoid judging the group for, say, a lack of creativity? 21:45Why people struggle to take the risk of making conversations not about themselves. 26:08How can we address and reframe unwarranted advice-giving? 30:20What was it about your first wilderness experience that changed you as a listener? 33:17Learning to step out of thinking there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ things to share. 00:54What is it about the circle that facilitates deeper trust, connection, and conversation? 05:26Can you speak to the power of the literal physical arrangement of the circle, as well as the method? 07:54How can technology impact our conversations – intentionally and unintentionally? 09:27What’s the online equivalent of changing the temperature or lighting in a room? 11:20 How do you use music and video to create the atmosphere you want? 15:57 Can you explain this ‘U-shaped agenda’ in more detail? 21:54 Planning how to start a session in the right way. 23:32 Pulling apart vulnerability and openness and understanding their differences. 27:14 Do you reflect on your own work with the same compassion and curiosity you ask of your participants? 29:01What makes a workshop fail? 33:08What exercise would you recommend to someone who wants to try circle conversations? 33:57And what makes a good prompt? 37:58What is the one thing you would like listeners to take away from this episode?

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