Consequences of behavior: Was Arguments and Arguing
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 08:04:04 -0600 (MDT)
In a group living context there are consequences for behaviors. Some
consequences are things that support the group in its work, some detract. As
Stuart pointed out, there are clear, observable consequences to the
behaviors of yelling and name calling. For example, If I hear one neighbor
shout at another:


It would have a consequence on my reaction to that person in the future, eg,
I don't ever want to be yelled at like that so I will start distancing
myself from that person. As a non-participant in the argument I am still
effected by it, and my behavior is not necessarily one that I am aware of.
It may be months later that I come to realize that I have distanced myself
from this person, why is that?

There are lots of behaviors in a group. SOme are obvious, some are
completely hidden, like topics that the group does not talk about. For
example, one group had a shouting match over childcare at meetings. That
topic would not come again because people were afraid it would cause another
shouting match.

It is very useful to have someone (better yet a team of people) paying
attention to the process, to make observations about the behaviors and the
consequences of behaviors, and to make those observations known to the
group, as appropriate, to decide whether or not to work on them.

Typically most groups fail to do this because it is a great deal of work,
and they end up with lots of good things that they miss and distracting or
dysfunctional things that they never deal with, which may or may not become
factors in driving people out of the group. I teach my facilitation students
that one of the key skills of the facilitator in an intentional community
setting is observation of behaviors. There are lots of ways to go about
this, but the important point is that somebody should be paying attention to
them, thinking about them, and thinking about how to support the group by
reinforcing behaviors that help the group relationship and calling into
question behaviors that detract from the group relationship.

Rob Sandelin
Northwest Intentional Communties Association
Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time

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