Standing on the shoulders of T-groups and process work, our interactive groups rely on 4 main components to keep us in the here and now:
- Present Moment
Present Moment: What is really happening between group members? What do you notice about the dynamics at the individual, interpersonal and group level? When people tell stories about their life back home, we help them come back to the here and now to experience what is alive in the moment. This practice supports us to build closer relationships and speak more authentically.
A fabulous gift we can give others is to share our observations. For example, we notice who is usually the first to talk or speaks most often? Who holds the center of power? Who gets interrupted? Who does the group tend to follow? Who does the group ignore?
We explore power dynamics not at an abstract level, but in the moment. We look at racism, sexism, ableism in ourselves, rather than pointing to the transgressions of people outside the group. As we deepen our connections, we our allies and who is left out.
Spontaneity: What feelings are invoked in you in this moment? Your being is the medium of change. When you notice a conflict or something stuck in the group, you can bring in your vulnerability. Sharing your authentic feelings can unfreeze the group and encourage people to share their feelings.
On the flip side, your inner educator may insist that you withhold your response. Say you hear a microaggression, such as, “You’re crazy, ” said in jest, but triggering nonetheless. You may not want to reveal that you have an invisible mental illness, and you don’t want to risk losing your sense of belonging in the group, so you just eat it, and deal with the internal stress alone.
Your protectors are geniuses, and they know when it’s safe enough to call something out. They know when you have the inner resources to deal with the defensiveness that is likely to arise if you confront. But then someone notices you are withdrawn, and asks what’s happening. Because you’ve been self-empathizing, and made friends with your defense mechanisms, now you’re able to share your hurt and your desire to belong.
Authenticity: How do we support people to express themselves fully? When we see incongruence between what folks are saying and their facial expressions, or they say something in a prior session and now they are saying the opposite; we approach it with gentleness, because they are not liars or hypocrites; they are just trying to find their true voice. A few examples:
- I notice you are speaking much more rapidly than usual and I’m curious what’s going on for you?
- I see a pattern when somebody challenges you, you tend to get angry or withdraw, and I wonder what that’s about and what is really happening for you?
- Would you like to hear my hypothesis about why you appreciate someone after you confront them?
- You laugh whenever you say something bold or profound. Would you like to explore what’s going on inside you?
Sensitivity: How can we show up in our full glory and at the same time uphold the dignity of everyone else? How can we become more aware of our impact on others? We listen to the group intelligence, including defense and suppression mechanisms. As we develop a willingness to turn towards our pain and suffering, we allow the collective nervous system to detox, so that we deepen trust, and create an environment for healing. We do this by slowing down, making space to digest our experience and metabolize the past.
Above all, we trust the process.
To embrace the 4th pillar of authentic communication, go to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.