|Re: Arguments & Arguers: Long response||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Stuart Staniford-Chen (stuartSiliconDefense.com)|
|Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 03:45:09 -0600 (MDT)|
Rob Sandelin wrote: > The last level, and one I personally dislike using the most, is the public > direct intervention. In this case, we have done the first two steps, it is > still not working, and I publically intervene in front of everyone, > capturing the specific behavior and its consequence to the group at that > moment. I have not yet succeeded in doing this in a way that 100% of the > time the individual feels non-defensive and I tend to do so as a last > resort. I might throw it out as something like: "I feel we need to stop this > process and look at what just happened." What I just observed was: ____. How I have had some experience with this kind of thing (mostly successfully, but not always). I've dealt with groups working through extremely painful stuff and containing volatile individuals (where in meetings prior to my involvement there were incidents of people shaking their fists in other's faces, yelling obscenities, and throwing objects). Here's what currently works best for me. If at all possible, intervene *before* the person loses their rag. It's much easier and safer to help someone who is still trying to control themselves than it is to calm someone down who has given in to their anger. Obviously this requires keeping a close eye on people and being empathically accurate about what is going on for them. It helps if the facilitator knows the group and the issues well, so they can predict when a meltdown is about to occur. Help from a vibes watcher can be very useful too. The facilitator is likely to be looking at the current speaker a lot, where a vibes watcher can continually look around the room at the emotional reactions of listeners. A discrete nod from my vibes watcher has been invaluable to me in pointing out someone whose feelings I needed to be tracking. One of the things I believe is critical in helping a group work with painful stuff is to project as much empathy and caring for the individuals as possible. I'm very inconsistent in how well I do this - on a good day I've gotten myself in tears because I cared so much, but other days I just don't have much energy and I'm kind of wooden (this tends to happen if I don't really want to be there). It makes a big diference. I don't believe it's useful to fake caring about someone - you have to really be feeling the emotion for it work. What I try to do is think of a list of all the wonderful things about that person, and all the wonderful things they have done for the group, and how tragic it would be if the conflict couldn't be worked out. Everyone has some wonderful stuff, just as everyone has problems. Then I keep reminding myself of the really good stuff about them when I'm working with that particular person and try to feel as much love for them as possible. (There's a very good book by Peter Breggin called "Creating a Healing Presence" which talks about this a lot - though there's also a lot in there that doesn't jive with me). I guess it's a little like method acting. Anyway, when I sense that someone is about to blow momentarily, I stop the meeting, ask everyone else to wait, and just work with that person. Sometimes I'm very physical - I'll go right over and squat in front of them, get in their face, feel as much love for them as possible, and try to talk softly to them about how they are feeling right now. I try to empathize with why they are really hurting and feel angry and tell them my understanding of why they feel that way. I tell them how much I care and how much I appreciate the effort they are making to follow the guidelines. My goal is a) to help them not to blow altogether, and b) to get them to express the hurt that is underneath the anger. In the ideal scenario, the person is then able to tearfully tell the group how hurt they are and why (rather than how angry they are). This sometimes triggers a lot of compassion from other members of the group who were previously hostile, and hopefully helps along the healing process. I've done stuff like ask another member of the group to give the hurting person a hug (choose someone who you are sure will say yes - a rejection makes it worse!) Then I give the person enough time to feel they are back in equilibrium before resuming the meeting. Sometimes it's better to take a break. Sometimes, when you come back, it might be important to explore the interaction that happened right before the intervention. Rob mentioned the difficulty that, when it is necessary to discuss a particular person's behaviour, this can give the group the opportunity to all take turns attacking the person. A technique I have used is to call on people of my choice and ask them about particular narrow aspects of the problem. (Socratic facilitation?) I try to call on all the heavily involved parties, but I get to control the order and pace, and who talks about what. This allows me to keep the control rods well down into the nuclear reactor, at the price of giving people less freedom to say their thing. It's a tradeoff. I don't do it unless I'm really concerned about the groups volatility. To pull off this kind of stuff, you have got to be a fairly heavy-handed facilitator (and I am :-). If someone's going to blow, you can't wait for the current speaker to finish, and then say "I'm feeling like X is having a hard time, does the group agree with me, what should we do?". You have to interrupt the speaker, take control, and say, "Ok, I'm stopping the meeting right now because I'm concerned that X is having a really hard time and he/she needs help. Please just wait while I work with them." If, as occasionally happens, my judgement is off about how they are feeling, I get to look really dumb making a big fuss about nothing. Sometimes a much lighter intervention is enough (Rob mentioned examples like having an agreed on signal to the person that you are concerned their emotion is getting too strong). Something I do a lot is just ask a person in the meeting how they are. "You doing ok, Fred? That last statement was ok?" Sometimes they are ok, and sometimes they aren't. My belief generally is that anger is always secondary to a hurt - some shame, humiliation, pain, whatever. If the person expresses their anger by yelling or violence, what they induce in the group is generally some combination of anger, fear, hate and the result is a bloodbath (metaphorically :-). However, if they make themselves vulnerable and express the underlying hurt instead, most people in the group will respond with compassion instead. This does *not* mean that everyone will live happily ever after, but it can push things a little in the right direction. I think solving really bad conflicts takes a long time and many little steps. (But then, maybe I'm just not very good at it yet). So I think I know something about how to help people control their anger when I'm there and feel up to it. At the end of a meeting like that, I feel like I've been put through the wringer six times - the whole group's emotions have passed through me. But I also feel totally exhilarated if it goes well. Mostly, I've gotten pretty positive evaluations of the way I work. One of the things I have gotten in feedback afterwards is some people having the sense that they didn't have an opportunity to say stuff when they felt they really needed to. I was too worried about them blowing up or triggering someone else. So I probably need better ways of helping people to express what is eating them, but in a controlled way that won't make someone else go ballistic. What I don't have any handle on is how to give people something to take away so that six months later they don't end up yelling obscenities at their neighbours in the laundry room. There are anger management classes, right? Anyone know much about the curriculum? Stuart. -- Stuart Staniford-Chen --- President --- Silicon Defense stuart [at] silicondefense.com (707) 822-4588 (707) 826-7571 (FAX)
RE: Arguments & Arguers: Long response Rob Sandelin, August 25 1999
- Re: Arguments & Arguers: Long response Stuart Staniford-Chen, August 26 1999
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