Deep Democracy: Facilitation and Self Development

Deep Democracy and Payam Yüce Işık

Deep Democracy (DD) is a method of  facilitation used for communication, conflict resolution, decision making and discussion. DD can get very personal and is very personal to those who are using it, as a result it can be used in varying ways but its goal remains consistent: to discuss what is not being discussed. In DD the minority and majority are both valued. This method has been notably used in post-apartheid South Africa and the Gezi events in Turkey after the June 2013 protests.

Payam Yüce Işık is a facilitator in Turkey who uses DD among other methods. She uses DD in group facilitation and team coaching. As well, she is hired by private businesses for executive coaching. Payam was also involved in the facilitation with forum leaders following the Gezi events.

Payam had a very irregular training process in DD, there were few people in Turkey who were already interested in it. Myrna Lewis (known for the Lewis method of DD) came to Turkey and did a day training course. What drew Payam was that DD allowed you to go deeper. From then Myrna was able to come once a year or more, if they were lucky.

A Continuous Learning Process

“Its not easy to gain confidence. It’s lots of personal development… Not only about the methodology, it’s more about yourself”

Facilitation certainly takes skill as well as an openness.  Payam generously described how DD has shaped her, both as a person and facilitator.

“I’ve made mistakes  and those were great learnings. I'm not a guru but i have grown to see the group dynamic…It’s a continuing process, I’m not there yet”

My interview with Payam was certainly not lacking in modesty. Payam described an event when she facilitated a group of 20 employees who had engagement issues which prompted the general manager to ask her to step in . She focused on two moments: when she stepped out of neutrality and how it impacted her as a facilitator, and when one of the individuals were positively impacted by the discussion.

“After the soft shoe shuffle we did an argument. Here there are two polarized sides, two views. In the argument we did amplification.  Amplification amplifies a statement made, which helps people go deeper. I amplified a comment made about the general manager and it was a bit too harsh. The person who made the statement said “that’s not what i said”. I amplified too much. Went further than it needed to go ”

She explained how she stepped out of neutrality and wanted the group to push further but it was clear that they were not ready and gave her that signal.

Another moment that clearly stuck out was when she spread a minority view of one individual which then exposed others who agreed. During the break that individual expressed that they often felt like a scapegoat and alone but when others agreed they no longer felt alone.

“DD is very simple and has a huge impact”


Gezi Event

“what we have done has been made to seem bigger than it was. What happened in June 2013 were riots around the government and that lasted along time.  It started in Gezi park with saving the trees then got bigger: Don’t touch my trees. Don’t interfere with my life. There was a point where the police became more and more dramatic and kicked people out of Gezi park. What happened at that point was that people went to other parts of the city and made community forums. In different parks around the city there were forum leaders.  People would meet, go on stage and everyone had three minutes to speak.These were very democratic sharing environments. It lasted during the summer then started to dissolve. Myrna came in November and did a session with these forum leaders. We met at one of the parks, there were about 30 leaders.  Myrna and Lara Toensmann facilitated and we supported with the soft shoe shuffle, it lasted till 12:30 am. After that session we said that we would be able to support them.  There were two following sessions and then it dissolved. ”

“We’re not gonna do something huge but if we do something very small and make an impact, that’s very good.”

Future Aspirations

I was very curious about Payam's future aspiration in relation to DD and facilitation. There is an endless amount of change that can be done through DD but how and what is a bit more difficult to have a clear image of.

“I want to use it as a social initiative. To use it in the society. There is lots of discrimination in Turkey and a lot of isolating the minority. There is no tolerance to different groups. My dream is to use it in a larger social context and have people start to gain more perspectives”


DD and facilitation has been portrayed as a continual process of self discovery and learning; That is certainly something I can attest to after only a month and a half of using with this method of communication. Despite Payam's modesty, she certainly seems to have a firm understanding of DD and facilitation.

“If there really is no trust in the group DD is very hard to use...Let’s not start with DD if there is a trust issue. let’s do something that builds trust”


1 thought on “Deep Democracy: Facilitation and Self Development

  1. Dr. Kate Siner - 30th June 2016

    Wow! Impressive. I did not hear about DD though I am a consultant of self-development. Whatever I think it will working. It may develop humans psychological, mental, emotional situation. I think so. Thanks for sharing.

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