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A way to talk

Good Group Tips

In principle, in order for people to avoid conflict there has to be a way for them to talk. When in tension with someone else in my group, rather than talk with them directly, it is easiest to assume a superior position and take steps to prove my righteousness. It is also relatively easy to propose changes to the system in which we both operate: new rules, new policies, new ways of doing things that I think will make the tension go away. But both of these approaches create conflict and/or burden for my group.

Sometimes the barrier to direct communication is of a mechanical nature such as language or physical proximity or connection. But most often the barrier is our own fear about having a hard conversation. We don’t trust ourselves to say the right things or react the right ways. We are afraid that in a one-on-one setting we will lose the battle we are trying to win.

Practical Tip: Don’t view tensions as battles to be won or lost but rather as shared problems to be solved in shared ways. Before doing anything else, seek first to find a way to talk with those who are part of the problem.

If there are mechanical barriers to talking, work to fix them. In today’s world, going to war because one party can’t physically communicate with another is no excuse. If there are personal emotional barriers in the way, work to fix them. You are part of the problem; have a talk with yourself. Creating conflict or requiring your group to consider systemic changes because of your own emotional issues is selfish and inefficient.

And if someone else proposes a way to talk with you about a shared problem, accept the opportunity. Always talk first. Find a way.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Hear, hear

Good Group Tips

In principle, groups can be very efficient when there is a culture of quick and visible agreement, like in the British Parliament when someone makes a statement and others yell, “hear, hear!” On the other hand, groups can be very inefficient when there is a culture of making points over and over in different ways with different nuances with additional tidbits of information.

Further, in group settings we are often quick to find fault and air concerns, a method of group critique that we often assume will result in a better end product. It is refreshing when critical comments get balanced with positive, encouraging shows of support.

Practical Tip: When someone says something you agree with, show it instantly with a “hear, hear” or at least a head nod. It is very useful for the whole group to see such cues. If your general view is expressed by someone else, restrain your need to present the view in a different way with a different spin with a few extra tidbits of information.

Encourage your group to adopt a “hear, hear” culture where members readily show their opinions to the whole group. Saying “hear, hear” is one way but variations include thumb signals, keypad voting, and standing line ups.

Instant, positive feedback. Hear hear!

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Right to be wrong

Good Group Tips

In principle, in relations among equals, people have a right to be wrong.

Often it is only by being wrong for a while — trying on an opinion that doesn’t fit — that one comes to realize what is truly right. Without the freedom to be wrong one is often in tension, discontent with the present, wishing for a different way.

When I think you are wrong and I am right, the question is not “How can I make you change?” but rather, “Given our different opinions, how shall I move forward peacefully?”

Practical Tip: If we disagree and I think you are wrong and I am right, it works well for me to say my opinion but it doesn’t work well for me to talk down to you or think bad of you. It works well for me to hear your opinion with a genuine desire to understand but it doesn’t work well for me to shut you down or write you off.

Let us acknowledge our different opinions but move forward anyway. Rather than stall and fight, let us either live with our differing opinions for a while, try on more opinions, and continue our dialogue with mutual respect; or let us go our different ways in peace.

Just like you have a right to be wrong, so do I, and it works well to be always mindful that perhaps I am.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.
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