The assistance of an accepted “third party” to ease the management of communication and process of dialogue, negotiation or other encounters. Facilitation happens before, during and after meetings.
Facilitation is characterised by the presence of an accepted “third party”, who assists the negotiating (or conflict) parties in managing key elements of the communication and/or negotiation process. While mediation (See Mediation), a semi-directive type of facilitation, emphasises the need to reach a mutually accepted agreement, many facilitators focus more on improving the relationship and general communication between the parties. Facilitators and mediators both help the group to communicate more effectively and improve their mutual understanding. Their responsibilities relate to the process rather than the content but facilitators can also act to some extent as creative content providers for enriching the discussion.
Dialogue, as Norbert Ropers defines it in “Basics of Dialogue Facilitation”, is the meaningful and meaning-creating exchange of perceptions and opinions and is one of the methods people most frequently turn to when addressing conflictive issues peacefully.
Negotiation can be broadly defined as a communication process between two or more actors, who are mutually interdependent, for the ostensible purpose of reaching an agreement on a situation perceived as a problem or conflict. In many ways, negotiation is a basic means of getting what you want from others. It is back-and-forth communication designed to reach an agreement in a situation where parties on different sides of the situation in question have a number of interests in common and others that are conflicting.