IAF Handbook Covers
The IAF Handbooks

The Handbook for Working with Difficult Groups:

How They Are Difficult, Why They Are Difficult, and What You Can Do About It

Sandor Schuman, Editor

IAF Handbook Covers
The IAF Handbooks


We’ve all experienced the challenges associated with working with groups, but Working with Difficult Groups turns the idea of “difficult groups” on its head. Rather than view groups as inherently difficult, we look at the factors that make working with groups difficult. Individual chapters focus on challenges such as involving dissenters, building external perspectives, reducing complaining, adapting to cultural differences, incorporating diversity, facilitating inclusion, working virtually, resolving identity-based conflict, transforming unproductive behavior patterns, preventing workplace harassment, and strengthening accountability.

We first provide a framework for thinking systemically about the many and varied ways in which working with a group can be difficult. Building on that framework, the contributors each address three basic issues:

The Handbook for Working With Difficult Groups is written for group facilitators, team leaders, group members -- people who are concerned with how people and groups can work together more effectively.


“Beginning with a conceptual framework useful to understand effective group functioning, The Handbook for Working with Difficult Groups continues with twenty chapters, each describing a common challenge a facilitator can face, examining the research available to understand the difficulty, and then offering pragmatic interventions a facilitator can use to deal with this challenge. A must-read for any group facilitator.”

~ David Straus, founder, Interaction Associates

“If you're looking for ways to make your team more productive, you'll find golden nuggets written just for your situation in The Handbook for Working With Difficult Groups. A compendium of research and sage advice, this book offers experienced insights into how to transform seemingly dysfunctional groups and avoid obstacles before you hit them. Should be in the library of any leader or facilitator!”

~ Tammy Adams, CPF, president, Chaosity LLC

“This fine book contains a rich diversity of case studies, approaches and wise counsel from leading practitioners working with groups. It will help you to understand and facilitate effectively in even the most difficult situations.”

~ Dale Hunter, author, The Art of Facilitation: The Essentials for Leading Great Meetings and Creating Group Synergy

“Whether you are a facilitator, leader, or member of a group, you will gain surprising insights into why a group is difficult, and more importantly, how to recognize the cause of the difficulty and how to develop an effective response to move the group forward.”

~ Gary Rush, CPF, president, MGR Consulting; chair, International Association of Facilitators (IAF)


The Handbook for Working With Difficult Groups:

How They Are Difficult, Why They Are Difficult, and What You Can Do About It

Sandor Schuman, Editor

ISBN: 978-0-470-19038-8

Hardcover 480 pp; 2010

Jossey-Bass, An Imprint of John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated