Avoiding Transpersonal Pernicious Behavior in a Group

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Transpersonal Pernicious Behavior

By Al Turtle  Sept/Nov 2006

I continue to want to share my observations about Communologue.  Previously I wrote my notes about the 9 Guiding Interventions along with my rational for them.  I also gave a statement of encouragement to be shared with group members before or during the first meeting of a new Communologue Group. 

Recently I had another idea about how to look at these issues based on a diagram, created for a paper I wrote on my ideas on the Guide’s Role in Communologue, about “keeping non-dialogical behavior” out of a group.  My idea in that diagram was to show that all subject matter is encouraged, and that I believe that Communologue only excludes actions that would contribute to “nastiness.”   I believe that topics are not nasty, but that certain ways of sharing them are.  

On thinking about this and about thinking of how the role of a guide is to train members of the group to do the work, I came up with these new thoughts.

Simply put, my belief is that a Communologue Group takes responsibility for the safety and pleasure of their meetings.  They do this by working together to exclude, what I call, Transpersonal Pernicious Behaviors.  The facilitator or guide helps them learn how to do this.  By TPB I am referring to behaviors that may have a completely innocuous intention, but which in all likelihood contributes threat of nastiness in the listeners and thus in the environment.  The result of Transpersonal Pernicous Behaviors is to evoke reactions in listeners which will interrupt the safety and pleasure of being together.  Here is my list of TPBs.

  1. Talking so rapidly or in such complex terms that people have trouble tracking you.  Ignoring signals that people would like to you slow down or speak more simply.  When I talk too fast, I send threat to my listeners.
  2. Mixing a) sharing your own point of view and owning it with b) stating your point of view as if it were the only correct point of view – i.e. MasterTalk.  Ignoring requests to explicitly share your own view of things.  When I use MasterTalk, I send threat to my listeners. When I focus on “what is going on” rather than sharing my views about “what is going on,” I send threat to my listeners.
  3. Mixing a) your interpretations of events with b) your observations of events.  Sharing your interpretations as if they are facticity.  When I project my interpretations, I send threat to my listeners.
  4. Mixing up responsibility for actions and attributing responsibility incorrectly – often in the form of blaming.  Ignoring boundaries.  When I take responsibility for actions that are your responsibility or when I imply that you are responsible for actions that are mine, I send threat to my listeners.
  5. Mixing up a) personal thinking with b) speaking.  Speaking while leaving out words or thoughts and being in other ways unclear about sharing what you are thinking.  Assuming that people can read your mind. Resisting invitations to speak clearly so that understanding you is easy.  When I do not share my thinking, assuming that listeners can figure me out, I send threat to my listeners.
  6. Speaking abstractly about emotionally charged issues without willingness to share specifically.  Withholding your point of view or being unwilling to be clear.  When I bring up emotionally charged topics and refuse to share about them, I send threat to my listeners.
  7. Mixing a) questions with b) statements.  Using a question when a statement is being made.  Asking a question and not being interested in the answer, and not being willing to share what is behind the question.   When I ask a question at that point when I am trying to make a statement, I send threat to my listeners.
  8. Speaking about your reasons for doing something, while speaking or acting as if others have no reasons for their actions.  Treating others people as if they are invalid.  When I show my sense while stating that someone else doesn’t make sense, I send threat to my listeners.
  9. Visibly reacting and then either postponing or refusing to share the sense behind the reaction.  When I show a fear reaction, and then withhold the nature of my “threat,” I induce non-specific threat in my listeners.  Yet my visible reaction is an interruption to the current speaker(s).  Thus, not inviting them to continue speaking where they left off also induces threat in my listeners. 

I repeat my belief that the goal of a Communologue group is to work together to eliminate the pernicious (troublemaking or threat creating) effects of these TPBs. 

I share this list of what I experience as “dangerous behaviors” so that I and other guides can share our thoughts and better recognize and monitor what I see as threat being introduced into a Communologue group.


Avoiding Transpersonal Pernicious Behavior in a Group — 1 Comment

  1. Al,

    Thank you so much for this and for the notes on the guiding interventions. I’ve learned a lot over the years about forming a healthy relationship with my partner from your site and came here looking for more ideas now that a work situation has arisen that left me needing some new tactics.

    An organization I frequently work for is facing financial difficulties. Employees are looking at potentially large pay cuts, loss of benefits, etc., and over the past couple of months I have seen a happy, loving community of coworkers become very scared and angry. In response they are doing just as you’ve described and looking around for anyone doing anything wrong so they can blame them– administrators, colleagues/friends, society, anyone really. Snarky comments and eye rolling abound, and it has become a very uncomfortable place to be. I find myself feeling absolutely drained from hearing a near-constant stream of judgements, complaints, pessimism, and very middle school-like gossip during a day at work. It’s gotten so bad that I even found myself participating a few times, which frankly made me feel ill, but it’s hard not to get caught up in the sentiment. Reminds me of the slime in Ghostbusters 2!

    I would like to try the tactics you describe (mirroring, etc.), and also would just like to be up front with the people around me how I’m affected by what is said to and around me, but am nervous because I’m not a full-time employee there. My continuing to be contracted revolves around these same coworkers continuing to request me, so I need to avoid offending them. Not that it’s fun to work somewhere so negative, but the work we do is incredibly rewarding, and frankly there are limited employment opportunities in my field. In other words, I really do need this work. I also hope things will get ironed out at some point and they’ll be fun again…

    Do you have any particular advice for dealing with what equates to several really negative bosses? I’m trying to face all of this with compassion for their situation, and they don’t seem to say anything awful about me because I’m not there quite enough to give them anything to blame me for, but hearing so much negativity is still really depressing me.

    Thank you!

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