SKILL Sub-competency

Observing and Evaluating my own Behavior and its Impact on Others, and Modifying this Behavior in the Interest of the Group


1_GD_My observations on group formation and behavior in class
2_GD_Raging River reflection

When we did “Raging River,” in 2015, I put myself out there, proactive with ideas for the crossing. There were 3 or 4 of us leading the group with suggestions. I observed that one of us felt very confident about her solution, so I said, “Let’s go with that.” People seemed to agree, and off we went. In this exercise, I found myself really paying attention to the feelings I noticed in others. Perhaps it was because our personal reactions and observations were the main focus for the exercise, not to just come up with solutions to a challenge (2_GD). 

In the 2016 Raging River exercise, because I had solved the problem, I made a video of my group
for them to view privately. (Many people did not want to be seen in public, so I have not posted it.) This year, for the actual exercise - because they would necessarily touch each other - we separated the women from the men to respect the customs of our many Muslim classmates. That did not separate our enthusiasm. Again, crossing the “river,” brought us together quickly through its powerful introduction to our classmates’ personalities.

This is commentary on a difference of opinion between myself and a classmate about how a presentation should appear. In the making of this presentation project, our group had a tenuous cohesion at best, but were saved from potential splintering by our real respect and liking for each other. There was no shared resolution of the problem; rather, abdication to it and myself. The confrontation was primarily between the two of us. The others did not want to be involved; understandably so. 

We were successful in reaching the best outcome by seeing tangible evidence which showed how
re-directing the form of our presentation would improve it. At no time, did this temporary impass develop into personal diatribe. Everyone in our group had the ability to remain focused on the
task, no matter the difficulties along the way. (I understand that we were some of the luckier
ones in the course!) 

What I notice about myself and my participation in various groups: with purely intellectually driven projects, i.e., ones without any visible form or shape encapsulating the meaning, I am reasonably accomodating and relaxed about sharing input. When I need to share a construct in two or three dimensions, I become anxious. It is a huge struggle for me to acquiesce - or even share - another’s visual viewpoint / interpretation. My anxiety can be facilitative, but I would rather not have it.
I force myself to lean-in, in order to avoid group belligerence. Hubris rears its ugly head. I am
a master of my craft and though I own my self, I am not yet its master. 

What a group needs from me, and what I need from a group: what I do as a group member to contribute to creating trust. Though I feel a leadership role in every group (and most of the time with everything and everywhere!), I do relinquish it - or subdue it - if I feel there is a working trust there, and that everyone is able to maintain the course to our goal. When there is a disconnect within the group, when someone is using compensatory strategies of their own, and imposes a direction misaligned with the task, I attempt to restructure their viewpoint back to our focus. Sometimes it takes a long time; sometimes it is not possible or needs fewer time constraints (I guess I might look into Grice’s maxims!). I can be a High Input Generator, but I can often be unaware of how my energy affects the group - or any individual within the group - until I am affected by its effects
(I couldn’t resist the wordplay!).  

Group Dynamics has helped me improve my effectiveness in a group. Investigation into different approaches to learning and teaching has inspired me to play around with new - to me - ways of seeing how people interact. My goal is to achieve more effective performance and more empathy with others. 

The last line of Tennyson’s, Ulysses, has always spoken to me: 
…to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”