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Summary: Facilitators can use 3 ascending levels of intervention tactics to maintain positive momentum in groups with participants who monopolize activities and limit diversity of perspectives.
Dominating workshop participants are those who, for a variety of reasons, seek to take control of the workshop by monopolizing conversations or activities, so that their own ideas are at the center of the group’s focus. (This behavior can be deliberate or unintentional, well-meaning or malicious.) Unchecked, the dominating participant’s ideas, opinions, or contributions become the main source of input into a conversation, drowning out valuable differing perspectives and thus limiting the diversity and richness of group discussion.
Why Participants Dominate
Participants dominate in workshop settings for a variety of reasons. They could be defensive or anxious that they will lose control or authority, untrusting of the team or of the facilitator, or may believe that they alone hold knowledge relevant for the discussion. And while some participants may seek to deliberately dominate because they have an exaggerated view of their own importance, expertise, or authority, not every dominator consciously attempts to take control. Some may simply be overpassionate about a project. Others, such as high-ranking stakeholders or managers, may unintentionally hinder contributions from others who are hesitant to appear contrarian to them.
For context, here are 3 common examples of dominating participant types: