Coded for congruency in a meeting

March 29, 2007 § Leave a comment


Image by nickwheeleroz via Flickr

A team keeps having seemingly endless discussions, or the team appears to be in chaos and does not seem to get out.
As a meeting moderator or facilitator, how can I discover what is going on?
And what can I do?

Many causes possible

Lots of things may be causing it, so don’t judge too quickly! The field may hold things like one or more team members being driven by some (hidden) want. Fear may even come into play. Or our facilitation. And before we believe that (and start co-avoiding or co-spiralling), we can consider a simple lack of awareness of team members of the state the team is in and/or what is causing it. People have different ways of approaching and working with information and/or have different problem solving strategies; this sometimes looks like -or if ignored can lead to- incongruence.

In simple cases where a lack of awareness is at play, translating between “intelligences” may work. And if our intuition keeps nagging us on “something else”, we can always choose to fearlessly observe and gather information.

If our production doesn’t go according to our design, we would do wise to, besides considering improvements for our operational functioning, also consider the possibility there may be “faults” in our design (the way we currently do things).

Something else?

Check for clues like listed below for indications of ‘something else’:

  • Face, manner, and way of talking and moving, seem to project frustration or anger.
  • There appears no felt quality of ease and spontaneity in people
  • There seems no harmony between what is being said and done and how people look, sound and move.
  • People seem to display no openness to and curiosity about new ideas, new experiences, and new possibilities life offers.
  • Some or all people appear to be intimidated or overwhelmed by fears of anxiety or insecurity.
  • No sense of humor
  • Quality of harmony and dignity seem not preserved under stress.

Body language can also give clues to that ‘something else’ is on a person’s agenda (or that people have a physical problem)

  • Eyes seem not alert, bright and lively.
  • Face and jaw not relaxed.
  • Head appears to not be held erect and in alignment with the body.
  • Shoulders not relaxed.
  • Arms not hanging in a natural and easy manner.
  • Posture neither erect, nor well balanced, but rather strained.
  • Walk or posture is aggressive or overbearing.

We can also observe the way interactions are done:

  • People seem not at ease talking about (their own) accomplishments and shortcomings.
  • Compliments, expressions of affections, familiarity, or appreciation are hardly given.
  • People seem not open to criticism and appear not comfortable about acknowledging mistakes.
  • People do not seem to show flexibility and trust in their own mind and skills in response to changing situations and challenges.
  • The world out there appears a doom and defeat place, and gets mentioned only in terms of win(ners) or lose(rs).

Check internal messages

And we can smell it, and feel the reflections of it in our own internal messages.

When receiving one or more indicators of a foreign element, and potential downshifting was a part of the engagement agreement, a proper action would be to shift attention to the individual team members, and informing people of our observations in a congruent way, asking for help with making meaning and assigning significance to our observations. Of course, this action usually throws the group in chaos.

We don’t have to be liked. We get that at home. We do need enough healthy and professional detachment. And a part of that is not caring. Another thing we need is to allow our selves to feel love for life and all beings. And believing in the five freedoms. Dimensions possibly playing a role in team incongruence can lie within the group itself, can be found to lie within a more historical or individual context, and can also be caused by spells we have inadvertently cast (on) ourselves as facilitator and that need detecting and undoing a.s.a.p.

Moving on

Serving (hidden) needs/agenda this way is likely to enable the team a congruent focus on the original issues, even if there are different perspectives. Only after all of the members’ (hidden) needs are either “in the open” and have been acknowledged as being important issues and/or have been met, the original problem can be addressed and the team can move to integration of and practice with ideas phase so that original issues may find a solution.


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