Re: Re: "Managing Outbursts in Meetings" -- Linda Scott
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2002 12:53:06 -0600 (MDT)
Linda Scott, Cascadia Commons Cohousing, Portland, OR  LScottr2go [at]
is the author of the message below.
It was posted by Fred the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
because the message included HTML ;      PLEASE do not post HTML, see
Note: I also modified the format to make a little clearer who said what.
--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------

In a message dated 4/15/2002 8:06:16 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
Don Westlight, Cascadia Commons Cohousing westligh [at] wrote:

> At Cascadia Commons we've added a "purple card" to our concensus card
> ring.  The card was designed as a way to help people vent effectively,
> and to affirm group process.  The way it works is as follows:  Someone,
> anyone, can have a strong feeling or issue which prevents them from
> partricipating, rather than making up some sort of rationalization, they
> can simply hold up the purple "feeling" card.  When whoever is speaking
> finishes, the facilitator calls on the the purple card first.  The purple
> card person gets to make "I feel ____" statements, and when finished, a
> random person in the group volunteers to paraphrase back.  We've found
> that in all cases, purple cards should be paraphrased as this has the
> primary function of ensuring that the person is heard, and the secondary
> function of limiting frivolous use of the card.  With practice, the whole
> thing can take two minutes, and then the meeting is right back into
> normal process.
> This works pretty well for us.  Don Westlight, Cascadia Commons
> Cohousing, Portland, OR

Well, I live at Cascadia Commons, too, and I have a different opinion than
Don (wouldn't cha know it) about how well our "purple card system" works!  It
does serve the immediate function of relief for the affected party.  Lynn's
idea would accomplish the same thing.  But I think Lynn's idea is preferable
because communication skills can vary so widely within a group.  Maybe some
combination of the two ideas - that the affected party could download to a
listener outside the meeting and get listened to, perhaps be offered
suggestions for assertive ways to communicate their message, and given a
chance to do so once they come back in.  If they still want to verbally gun
somebody down, that's up to them.
       My experience of our purple card system is that when the person using
it has good communication skills, and speaks from a place grounded in their
own self and their own emotion, it is powerful and enhances our knowing of
each other.  (i.e., "I'm disgusted"  "I feel aversion", etc.)  The real world
is that not all of us have those skills, and hearing vitriol about another,
freely expressed, does not enhance our group work, in my view.  I think it is
experienced more often as shaming, humiliating, uncomfortable, etc., for the
whole group.  We may have a ground rule about using "I statements", but lots
of folks think that means:  "I feel the last person who spoke was wrong, bad,
inappropriate, uncaring, and THAT'S the reason I now feel _______."  It's a
real downer and the people in the group who are conflict-shy may develop an
aversion to being in a place where that's happening.  It is true, very
skilled facilitation might be able to capture those moments and create
healing out of them.  More often, the whole group, facilitator included,
feels like a deer caught in headlights.  The same non-hierarchical way our
groups are set up makes it difficult and uncomfortable, in terms of group
dynamics, for a social peer to assume authority (assuming they had the skill,
which is dubious) and try to negociate the minefield.  That's why I think any
ways we can find to share good communication skills in order to safely share
our feelings is a good idea.  Moments of conflict is when they are most
needed, and tend to be most neglected.
 Linda Scott, Cascadia Commons Cohousing, Portland, OR

Cohousing-L mailing list
Cohousing-L [at]  Unsubscribe  and other info:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.