Posts Tagged 'facilitation'

Insight into Group Consciousness

The Celestine Prophecy (Redfield, 1996) was not a great work of literature, but it contained many good insights (and more than 9).

In 2000 I copied the description below of a group process based on intuitively sensing the flow of energy in a group conversation.   You could also say it’s based on extremely fluid listening, and non-attachment – which are not easy to come by in groups, but which can make any group process much more effective.

The question is, how can this level of group consciousness be developed?  A simple answer is that it can if there is a great deal of motivation on the part of group members, and if at least some of the members can model the method and help coach the others.

Is this really a “method” – or actually a level of collective consciousness that many groups experience, regardless of the particular method or process used?   Which methods are especially good at culturing listening and dropping ego-attachments?

(Excerpt follows from the Celestine Prophecy pp. 214 – 215 – this book is available for “Search Inside” on Amazon)  Continue reading ‘Insight into Group Consciousness’


Training for Focused Conversations and Consensus

For anyone interested in the methods mentioned in the post below, here is info on upcoming training on Focused Conversations and Consensus:

In Brooklyn, NY on May 12-13 (click on “View Schedule to see all places and dates)

In Toronto on July 9-10

Creating wholeness in collaboration.

(Continued from here.)

Feelings are most primal, and hardest to ignore.

They are powerful triggers to action, and also trigger cycles of thinking, interpretation and meaning.  The “most important facts” then become dominated by whatever triggered the most powerful feelings.

Interpretations are heavily influenced by feelings because feelings focus and filter thinking to derive interpretations.  The interpretations also loop back to explain or justify the feelings, and to justify the actions that the person has taken or wants to take.

Feelings are important and have to be recognized and understood.  But feelings shouldn’t dominate thinking and action.

The only way to break the dominance of feelings is to step back and see them in the larger context of a group of people who have different feelings and interpretations about the same set of circumstances – and whose help is needed to create solutions..

The dialogue process intentionally trains participants to both listen to others, and to suspend judgment in order to make listening possible.   When people stay with the process long enough to get the hang of it, the process can present to everyone a bigger whole that no one person was seeing before.

The focused-conversation method has a similar result by taking the whole group through a process of collecting facts, expressing (and listening to) feelings, and stating (and listening to) interpretations before attempting to reach a decision together.   They get to see not only how other people feel about the situation, but also how they are all coming up with different interpretations based on different experiences and knowledge.

David Bohm’s On Dialogue especially explains how the evolution of individual consciousness is closely related and essential to development of collective consciousness. For example, he relates the ability to suspend and step back from ones own feelings and biases to the process of meditation.  Both dialogue and meditation involve a method of suspension (drawing back) to help individuals expand their awareness to greater wholes than they were previously capable of understanding.  The dialogue process trains individuals to think in more expanded ways by suspending personal judgments and getting a taste of the greater whole that comes from multiple perspectives.

Other references:

One of the best books on the practice of dialogue, by William Isaacs.

A pdf and book describing the Focused Conversation method, by Brian Stanfield and ICA Associates.

The Structure of Collaboration

I recently discovered the similarity between two extremely powerful collaborative methods, focused conversation, and dialogue.   It’s not a surprising discovery, and obvious to anyone who has studied or used them both.   But I was very glad to see the connection, which is not just a connection between these two methods, but a deeper structure that has to be brought to the surface for any collaborative method to work.

The common principle is that a complete (holistic) understanding of any situation needs to be looked at through multiple perspectives; and there are at least three extremely basic ways of thinking that affect any perspective.

Through the lens of a focused conversation, the most basic needed perspectives are:

–        Objective (collecting the facts),

–        Reflective (understanding feelings),

–        Interpretative (deriving meaning), and

–        Decisional (taking action).

Through the lens of dialogue, these are:

–        Feeling,

–        Meaning (which combines the concepts of ‘objective’ and ‘interpretive’), and

–        Power (action).

The understanding in both systems is that different people, or the same people at different times, tend to think and express themselves using mainly one of these different ways of thinking.  When people talk to each other, one-to-one or in groups, people often get confused, frustrated, and angry because the other people are using entirely different ways of thinking to express themselves.  From any one person’s perspective, this looks like “You just don’t get it!” or ‘You’re completely ignoring the most important point!”

A collaborative method has to make people aware that there are indeed different ways of looking at any issue, and that all of these ways are necessary in order to come up with a solution that will actually work.  This is because only then will a whole picture of the situation be incorporated into the solution; and also because only then can everyone understand and get behind a common solution.

This  post continues these thoughts:

Creating Wholeness in Collaboration.


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