Four Levels of Interaction 

– by Martha Lasley

One of the things we do in an authentic communication group is to interact in the relational space in the present moment. We call this level 4. Let’s look at all four levels of interaction.

Level 1 is chit chat and requires very little listening. We talk about the weather, what we saw on the news, where we went on vacation. This is the opposite of “here and now” and known as “there and then”. There is nothing wrong with level one or any other level. They are not good or bad. Many times, chit chat warms us up so that we can go deeper into the next level  And occasionally we go too deep too fast, and a part finds that unsafe, “takes a flight” back to level one with a joke or some other banter.… Read more

Rank, Power and Privilege

Issues of power and privilege are often invisible to people who have higher rank, but are more visible to people with lower rank. As facilitators we can move groups towards understanding and effectiveness when we can see the dynamics of rank.

What is Rank

Rank is the sum of our power and privilege that arises from social, psychological, contextual, spiritual or cultural norms. Whether conscious or unconscious, earned or inherited, rank determines much of our communication behavior.

Types of Rank

Social Rank

Social rank is based on the values, biases and prejudice of the mainstream, dominant culture and comes with privileges and more opportunities in life.… Read more

Transforming Self Judgment

Our inner critic is the part of us that generates self judgment. Marshall Rosenberg developed a process of transforming that judgment into awareness of feelings and needs, as behind judgment are unmet needs and pure energy that is waiting to be understood and tapped. We can help clients release that source of energy.

When we support full connection to their needs, we help clients move toward self acceptance, understanding and awareness. Through deep awareness of needs, they come into alignment. Only after that, do we support them in creating strategies to meet their needs. Some common self judgments and underlying needs follow.… Read more

How Do You Repair Harm from Microaggressions?

If you’ve ever said or heard something offensive and didn’t know what to do, you are not alone. It’s one thing to recognize insults. It’s another to respond in ways that repair the harm. Whether you have done harm, or witnessed harm, what you do next is crucial. People may mean well when they say, “I don’t see color.” Or  “He’s not a typical gay guy.” Or “What she is trying to say is…”  Many times, they aren’t even aware of how much pain these messages can stimulate. 

As comrades, allies, and accomplices, it can be shocking to learn that our positive intentions are experienced as painfully racist, homophobic,  sexist, or ableist.… Read more

Compassion, not Diagnosis, Leads to Transformation

Diagnosing individual behavior or group process can feel intellectually stimulating and can give facilitators a sense of order and comfort. Diagnosis gives us the sense that “this is familiar territory” when in actuality, we’re experiencing a unique moment in time. The practice of labeling individual or group behaviors can generate respect for the facilitator’s intellect, but does it really help the group to build awareness?

Often a clinical shroud falls over the group, the hierarchical divide widens between the person doing the diagnosing and those diagnosed, the group connection weakens, and deeper awareness of the needs of the group is obscured.… Read more

Confronting With Care: An Approach that Builds Trust

The word “confront” raises alertness, but is often associated with fear. A sweet alternative is the practice of “care-fronting,” a term coined by Sushma Sharma, an organizational consultant in Mumbai India, for confronting with care. This empowering experience wakes people up to something they are not aware of in themselves. The intention is to enhance their well-being or the well-being of others. But how do you do this without being presumptuous (judging what they are not aware of, determining what is in their best interest to become aware of, and raising consciousness about the matter without being asked)? To do this without bullying, nagging, or assuming a stance of superiority involves choosing the intention to support, selecting the depth that clients are open to hearing, and having confidence that they have the desire and ability to do something about it.… Read more

Five Stages of Debriefing

Extracting the Learning

We can facilitate learning by helping people reflect on their experience, uncover insights, share their learning, and apply it to their lives. One way to maintain a balance of structure and flow is to loosely follow the five step debriefing process, dancing with the energy, and weaving in spontaneity. This is an opportunity for them to personalize the learning and the application so that it’s relevant.

How do we draw them out? We can create space for slow processors by asking for some silence after the activity. We can expand on what they said, or what’s important about it.… Read more

Cultural Awareness Glossary

Ablism: Discrimination based on a person’s ability, coupled with a belief in the inherent superiority of those who do not have a permanent disability.

Acculturation: A socialization process in which groups of individuals come in continuous and direct contact with each other, resulting in changes in the cultural patterns of either or both groups. In principle, acculturation is a neutral term, but in practice, changes tend to occur less in the dominant culture.4

Ally: Someone who recognizes the unearned privilege they receive by being a member of a dominant group, and takes responsibility to bring change to such injustice.… Read more

How we Help, How we Harm: Deepening our Understanding of Culture Power Privilege and Rank

Individuals can experience power, privilege and rank as a result of the status they have earned through their own endeavors in life such as professional or academic achievement. These markers of status may be relatively obvious and more easily anticipated and worked with. However, power, privilege and rank that come from the social groups that one identifies with or belongs to, can be more subtle and difficult to name and engage. These forms of social power, privilege and rank are not earned; they are something people are born into.

Every social group has its own set of norms, standards, beliefs and values, all of which help to comprise its unique culture.… Read more

Social Sector Leaders Need Oxygen

Leaders in the social sector feel as though they are climbing Everest with no oxygen, no rest stops, and no base camp. Coaches and facilitators who support the social sector need to understand the unique challenges that leaders face.

Leading in the social sector takes gutsy compassion, and a different skill set than what’s needed in the corporate world. Executive directors work in an environment of perpetual urgency, where ordinary practices are completely suspended, as they work in the thin air of the sector most often referred to as “nonprofit.” EDs have the benefit of staff who are energized by their passion for making a better world, but who quickly become depleted and frustrated by low pay and the slow pace of change. … Read more