Focusing Self-Help Manual Excerpt

CHAPTER SIX: Collaborative Edge Focusing Decision Making (excerpt)

“…..4.   Working  With  Feelings  Creatively

“…. The “felt senses” behind emotions are one kind of feeling which must have room at decision-making meetings.  Another kind of “feeling” is the “intuition” –not a personal, emotionally felt want or need, but a preverbal grasp of a solution, a not-yet verbalized sense about what the group could do.  “Intuitions” are felt senses, feelings without words.  Just like more emotional feelings, they can greatly profit from the possibility of being made into words through empathic listening.

 Intuitions are perhaps the greatest source of creative solutions to conflict.  Like any felt sense, an intuition is a bodily registering of more information than could ever be considered consciously at one time.  As a person sits at a meeting, listening to discussion, an intuition can form as he takes in all of the various wants and needs expressed by the group, relating and combining and mulling them all in a preverbal way.  Such an intuition, although articulated by one individual, is a reading of the whole group, including not just what has been said but what has been expressed non-verbally.  When put into words, it will often contain important insights for the group decision.

5.   The Effects  of   Aggression  and  Competition

Like any felt sense, an intuition can only form or come forth strongly if it can be focused upon (as in Chapter Four).  If you think of group meetings you have attended, you will remember that, at many of them, participants compete aggressively for talking time, interrupting each other in order to acquire a chance to speak.  In such an atmosphere, there are no quiet moments for focusing, no opportunities for getting in touch with the wealth of information carried in the body subconsciously.  At such meetings, the possibilities for finding creative new solutions are greatly curtailed.  The same points will be discussed over an over; issues become polarized…

… In a group where competition is the method for acquiring turns, those individuals who are quickest with words and most aggressive in interrupting others will come to monopolize the greatest part of the speaking time. Social psychology research (Hastorf, 1968; Riecken, 1958) has shown that the power to influence group decisions is directly correlated with the amount of speaking time, that is, the people who manage to grab the most turns and to talk the longest are those who have power in the group. 

Yet there is no reason to believe that such aggressiveness in grabbing time is necessarily correlated with having the best ideas!  In fact, from what has been said above about the role of Focusing and intuition in creativity, it can be assumed that the opposite will often be true – that the creative solution will be in the hands (or mouth!) of a lower frequency, more pre-verbal and intuitive thinker but never have a chance to be verbalized in the highly competitive group.
And, in fact, social psychology research has shown that, even when a person is secretly given the information needed for solving an experimental group problem, the group will fail to hear that information and solve the problem unless the person with the information is one of the recognized high frequency talkers in the group.
Research has also shown that, while some people may not need to talk as much as some other people, they need to feel that they had the opportunity to influence the group decision as much as they wanted to in order to feel satisfied with the decision and motivated to act to carry it through.

In a Listening/Focusing decision-making group, there is a prohibition upon interruptions, upon acquiring speaking time through aggression.  Turn-taking is moderated by a process monitor, and everyone has an equal chance to ask for a turn and to speak without interruption.  In this way, each person has as much opportunity as he wants to attempt to influence the decision, and each should then feel satisfied with it and motivated to carry it out.  The prohibition upon interruptions also guarantees the time needed for Focusing upon and making words for intuitive felt senses and thereby maximizes the possibility of discovering creative solutions.



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These materials are offered purely as self-help skills. In providing them, Dr. McGuire is not engaged in rendering psychological, financial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.