RE: Process Workshop Recommendations?
From: TR Ruddick (
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2003 10:26:14 -0700 (MST)
> Date: Wed, 05 Nov 2003 06:34:45 -0700
> From: Becky Schaller <beckys [at]>
> Subject: [C-L]_Process Workshop Recommendations?
> Hi Sharon, thanks for your response.  I agree that how people feel about
> each other is vastly more important than any communication skills that 
> might be learned in  a workshop. However, I have seen minor conflicts
> get escalated because of poor process.... I remember one member who was
quite upset in a meeting
> saying, "I feel attacked by what Georgia said."   No one responded to
> that.   After thinking about that, I now remember that in the book on
> Nonviolent Communication, I read that "attacked" is not a feeling word. 
>  It's an interpretation....
> So, I'd like to repeat my request.  If anyone has recommendations of
> types of process workshops that have been helpful in your community,
> would you please let me know.

> Sharon V replied:
> Research on team functioning consistently shows that in the long term
> how people feel about each other and how well they function is related
> to how well they do their jobs -- content, not process. The emphasis on
> communication as "skills" can be very artificial and distract from real
> issues -- getting the job done.

When I teach group communication, I offer my students a choice.  

"You will have a committee of people who will decide how to treat your
brain tumor.  Do you want the committee to be made up entirely of
neurosurgeons, or of communication professors?

Think about it now...those brain surgeons are fairly haughty types and they
probably won't communicate well!"

I'd have to say that it's a both-and rather than an either-or situation. 
People who descend into name-calling are going to make work difficult;
peoeple who don't know how to address an issue are also going to make work

But there are dozens of books out there that deal with process.  Pick up
any small-group communication textbook, or even a good general basic
communication course text, and you can find the old "reflective pattern for
problem solving" (John Dewey), which is the group process that works well
across all types of group and problem (others, like nominal group technique
or single-issue process, are more useful for certain types of group or
problem, but terrible for others).  If group members can't figure it out
from the book, odds are that a workshop won't make them change process
either (though it may make them feel good, which is a valid goal).

Experience shows again and again that people communicate in unconcious,
habitual, reflexive ways.  If your communication neurons are wired to
interpret any disagreement as a personal attack, to use bellowing and
namecalling as a tool of persuasion, or to pull a group off onto tangents
because your own mind works in that unfocused way, it will take several
months of concentrated effort to suppress the old bad communication habits
and substitute new, better ones.  That's the cold, hard fact; that's the
way people learn to change behaviors.

BTW, I logged into and looked for John Chaffee; there are copies
of all of his books there for under $3.00 (plus shipping).  I usually just
borrow from the library--it's more environmental.

TR Ruddick
Dayton Cohousing

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