Re: Consequences of behavior: Arguments and Arguing
From: Diane Margolis (
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 07:01:29 -0600 (MDT)
I want to add my two cents to to this very interesting discussion.

Once I heard a psychiatrist say: "Some of the things we do to each other make
some of us sick."  I thought that was very wise.  It shifted the focus from the
sick person to the social environment.  To paraphrase that in the present
context, we might say: "Some of the things we do to each other make some of us
yell."  I think that some of the time the person who yells is just trying to be
heard, really heard.  She or he is looking for a response that directly
addresses the issue the yelling is about.  Of course there is a difference
between acute yelling and chronic yelling.  The dog owner, in Rob's example, was
a chronic yeller.  But it says something about the community that no one was
able to talk to him until, threatened by expulsion, he called Rob, an outsider,
to intervene.  Overcoming fear of intensity is at least as difficult as toning
down the intensity. Another paraphrase: "Some of the things we do to each other
silences some of us."  For a community, silence may be more distructive than

Diane Margolis,
Cambridge CoHousing

Rob Sandelin wrote:

> > Jan Ankney
> > wolf1gdsfm [at]
> > Ann Arbor, Michigan replied to a post I made that being yelled at
> personally made him/her feel like he could understand what was going on. I
> agree. In my example however I was pointing out a view that I was NOT the
> one being yelled at. I was referencing the reaction of someone who observed
> one person yelling at another and calling them names. This reaction, one of
> avoidance due to fear of being similiarly treated, is a subtle behavioral
> response to the situation that was described in the original post, where two
> people were yelling at each other, calling each other names.
> Yes, there is lots of variation in peoples tolerance for intensity. It is
> very easy and obvious for a facilitator to notice the intensity and the
> immediate the direct consequencial behaviors from others around the
> intensity. The easy and obvious reactions can be worked with directly and
> effectively.
> However, It is very difficult and subtle to notice the avoidance and
> non-engagement behavior that often results from the behavior of yelling and
> name calling. This was why I brought that point up in the first place. Fear
> is a powerful force, and yelling and name calling will cause some people to
> react from a place of fear, the most typical reaction is avoidance or
> superficial engagement of the individual they fear. I seen this lots and
> lots of times in many settings and have done community mediation and healing
> work around fear and trust issues.
> Sure, in a diverse environment, some people do not react in fear to
> intensity. But the hidden reactions of fear of intensity are often very
> difficult to bring to the surface and work with, it's like looking for
> reasons why certain people avoid someone. Most of the time, they might just
> say: I don't like that person. It's the reasons why they don't like them
> that need to be understood when such reactions seriously effect the abilty
> the group to work together. It may take lots of work to understand that the
> base cause is that some people fear and distrust intensity (and intensely
> reacting people), and will avoid it at all costs. This avoidance means the
> group won't even talk about certain things. Also the people who have intense
> reactions may never be engaged in a real issue, people will avoid anything
> not safe. So all they get is, gee nice day today huh?
> A good example of this was some work I did in a group over pets,
> particularly one man and his dogs. He was an individual who reacted with
> intensity, and so nobody in the group was willing to bring up the topics of
> the problems his dogs were causing because they were afraid he was going to
> go off "on one of his yelling sessions"  This man was given notice that he
> had to leave the group, and he was clueless as to why, thus he contacted me
> to mediate whatever the issue was. It turned out many people in the group
> were afraid of this man because of his intensity in the past, some of whom
> had never even met him! The telling of his intensity grew into a legend way
> beyond the reality. He was absolutely mortified by this, he had no clue of
> the impact his behaviors had, and he was incredibly contrite and sorry. The
> group healed their relationships with him,(solved their dog problems) and
> got a good lesson about many things said and unsaid.
> I have seen fear of intensity cripple groups before, which is why I go off
> on these long posts on this topic.
> Sorry for all the blather, I understand most people don't care much about
> group dynamics enough to put all this energy into it. It's just one of my
> passions.
> Rob Sandelin
> Northwest Intentional Communties Association
> Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time
> >
> >

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