Facilitating: the skill of multiple partiality

As an agile coach I do quite some retrospectives. My partner asked me a few days ago how it was possible that a team that did not know me, trusted me to do their retrospective.

What I told her was that it goes much better then when I do a retrospective for a team I’m coaching.  When I am coaching a team, I try to avoid to facilitate the retrospectives of that team. I do this, because I am involved with the team. And when I am involved I want to bring my own opinion.
I consider bringing my own opinion when I facilitate a retrospective, a bad practice.

When I facilitate a  team I don’t coach, (or no longer coach) the team members see me as objective. I don’t let the CEO talk more. I don’t know the history of the team. I can only react to what I see happening. That makes it much easier for me to do a retrospective.

Of course the first retrospective I do with a team, they will test this if I’m neutral.

It’s common sense to be neutral when you facilitate. Another example where common sense is WRONG.
I can’t be neutral. When someone says something, I immediately have feelings.
-Ah that is smart
-Nah that won’t work
-You make me think of an old boss I did not like
==> all these thoughts make me have sympathy or antipathy for the speaker.

For years I wanted to be neutral. Now I came to realize it is not possible. It is politic correct to be neutral. But it is not possible.

When I facilitate I want to have multiple partiality. Being aware what these feelings are, gives me the possibility to have multiple partiality.
And that is something I can.

I’m not sure I have to explain multiple partiality. I’m not sure I can.
It’s all related to the political correct TRUTH. I don’t believe their is one truth.
I believe we all have are truths.
I can believe that your truth is this and that her truth is that. I might have a total different idea of the world. I still respect both truths as a given.

For me multiple partiality is about respecting all parties the way they are. I can only do this when I understand my sympathies and antipathies.
It’s also one of the reason’s that I think agile coaches should have their own coach. It’s important to have a place where you as a coach can safely talk about your sympathies and antipathies, and to have a person with who you can explore these. At least I need that, because that way I can better understand them. When I better understand my sympathies and antipathies, they won’t drive me.