Re: Re: "Managing Outbursts in Meetings" -- Linda Scott
From: Tree Bressen (
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 07:23:16 -0600 (MDT)

Linda wrote:
>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.  

The way i became a professional group facilitator has its basis in exactly
such moments, so i want to talk briefly about my experience in case it's of
use to others.

I lived for over 4 years at Acorn Community in Virginia.  It's a spin-off
from the well-known Twin Oaks commune and egalitarianism has consistently
been a strong value in both places, probably even moreso than at cohousing

When moments just like the ones being described here would happen
occasionally at Acorn meetings, i consistently found myself stepping into
the facilitator role regardless of whether i was formally supposed to be
doing it at that meeting or not.  An outburst would happen.  Next would
come the deer in the headlights phenomenon.  Because i cared too much about
everyone involved to watch their pain and not try to help, i would start
doing reflective listening with both parties.  I'd soon pause and check in
with whoever the official facilitator was to see if my intervention was ok
with them.  They were always extremely relieved to have the help, and would
encourage me to continue doing what i was doing.  So i'd carry on until
there was a better resolution, which usually came out of all parties
feeling heard and respected.

After enough experiences like this, i came to see that this was a gift i
could offer to others outside my community too.  

So while it's true that not everyone has the skill, my experience has been
that if you do have the skill, people are generally receptive and grateful,
and that non-hierarchical organization is not a block to using it.  And my
hope is that someday, everyone really will have this skill, that we will
grow to where it's an integral part of our culture and upbringing.

Best wishes,



Tree Bressen
1680 Walnut St.
Eugene, OR 97403
(541) 484-1156
tree [at]
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