Re: Re: Improving group dynamics
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 13:15:08 -0700 (MST)

On Nov 21, 2003, at 1:37 PM, Louise Conner wrote:

Regarding team building and community skills, following is information from
Laird Schaub.

In particular, people in our culture tend to mistrust or be fearful
of strong emotional response, and I believe there is valuable energy
in emotions that can be directed toward solving the problems instead
of being used to bludgeon or manipulate. My idea is that people
cannot do their best thinking and move to another position until they
first feel heard and are allowed to make a full expression of their

I find a incredible lack of willingness to accept communication in whatever form the person can provide it. Therapists, ironically, tend to have the most rules about how one can communicate and lists of things that are inappropriate. I suppose because they see themselves as teaching their clients to be more appropriate, they tend not to listen but to keep teaching. Another limit to communication is what can be said on email and what should be said face to face or individually vs in a group. People have the idea that their way is the THE way to do it appropriately. Perhaps groups who have been together a long time had been properly trained to do it the same way and people who can't or don't want to do it that way have left, but it is hard enough to get people to express themselves in any way that insisting or even inferring that they do it "your" way will create huge blocks.

Another possibility is to spend time looking at the nature of
conflict and the advantages of moving away from the traditional view
of conflict as an indicator of ill health in the group. Instead, I
can show you how to work with conflict as an opportunity for gaining
leverage on knotty problems.

I don't know if there is a an original quote on this but "Life is conflict."

If you are not in conflict with something, you are either dead or incredibly unaware. We are constantly in conflict over food, sharing the air, space on the bulletin boards, money for this or money for that. Choices create conflict. Change creates conflict.

Comfort with acknowledging and accepting conflict, recognizing it and embracing it I would say is the number one thing that would help our group process. People withdraw or try to gloss over anything that might reveal conflict. As a result we make no decisions that are of any importance, avoid discussing values, and have so much tumult over the most ridiculous things, all because no one had the time or the stomach for talking about our conflicting views of what we are doing here!

(We have a great community -- I'm just exaggerating to reveal the under lyng problems all the communities have -- even Laird's!)

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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