|Always being afraid of the worst case||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Rob Sandelin (floriferousemail.msn.com)|
|Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 08:19:34 -0700 (MST)|
I was not saying being concerned about food safety was a dysfunction. A commonly seen problem in groups is overstating fears without any sort of rational analysis of the likihood/reality of the event actually occuring. This is commonly seen in the, But we could get sued, line of thinking. A good example, I watched a group spend 4 meetings trying to make a decision about a playset. They got hung up over the idea that a neighboring kid could hurt themselves, become paralysed and sue them. Of course this COULD happen, the liklihood of it ACTUALY occuring, is very small, and that is why you have liability insurance. Yet, they could not move forward until they could convince a person that the statistical likihood of injury was within reason. This took them a huge effort, and caused quite a bit of resentment and anger. (oh joy, that's what I got to work with them about) The fear of food poisioning and community dinner due to using either wood/plastic cutting boards is way overstated. Check around with established groups, you will find food poisioning in the commonhouse to be a non-issue. Yes, of course you want to pay attention to basic kitchen health issues, just like you do at home. (natural selection will weed out those that regularly splash raw meat around uncooked veggies long before you ever meet them) Look at your own history, your families history of food poisioning at home. The food poisioning issues are exceptions, not common. If they were common, you'd be dead. So if you spend lots of time in your group worrying about it, then you are not being realistic. So, Yes you should be a spending a reasonable amount of time on food handling safety, but not spending a whole meeting debating cutting boards. There is a personality type which consistently does the worse/extreme case presentation,and which really disrupts group work. They are sort of like Eeyore, in Winnie the Pooh, the "It will never work, we are all going to die" types. They can drive a group crazy with unrealistic fear mongering and worst case what if's. This can tie up decision making because you have to debunk every extreme case fear, which is a huge waste of time and energy, and can really demoralize a group fast. In the worse cases, people just drop the issue because they don' want to go through all the work to reassure the worse case scenarios will not happen. Sometimes this gets manifested as rumor mongering of incorrect, misinterpreted, or unrealistic information, and so the group has to spend energy dealing with unfounded issues. "Hey, did ya hear? The roof trusses we are using aren't guarenteed, they will probably have to be replaced and it will cost us thousands of dollars each." The real case is, no roof trusses anywhere are guarenteed, none that have been installed have ever failed or had to be replaced. The key to working with this kind of stuff is having dynamic facilitation which uses observation and intervention. These "Eeyores" can be useful in groups, and their talents at finding the faults and down sides can be directed by a facilitator in such a way that it brings a balance to a group, but does not go over the deep end. Often, by directly asking them to look for the potential problems, they feel involved and excited as participants without being a anchor on the whole group. When looking at the pros and cons, they do well at finding the cons. This is useful and helpful when balanced. A couple that are friends of mine are exact opposites, She is the unbridled optimistic dreamer type, he is the it probably won't work, lets look at this carefully type. Together they make a good balance. If your spending a lot of time in meetings assuring worse case scenarios will not happen, you will want to try to find some balance. Otherwise you will lose people's energy. Rob Sandelin Northwest Intentional Communities Association Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time
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