|This article was written for Community Building workshops but the group dynamics in this can be adapeted to many types of communications workshops with a little creativity. If you need help in doing this, write the address below.|
|This article is in four parts. You can jump to any of the parts by clicking on the title below.|
I have experimented with content of introductions as well as time of the introduction. I have tried from 20 to 150 minutes and used content that has no participant interaction and content that has participant interaction. I found considerable favorable differences with participant interaction The results are given below.
SHORT, NON-PARTICIPATORY INTRODUCTIONS - RESULTS:
MEDIUM, NON-PARTICIPATORY INTRODUCTIONS - RESULTS:
LONGER, PARTICIPATORY INTRODUCTIONS RESULTS
The pseudocommunity time may be reduced from 2 or more hours to almost zero. The introductory interaction is a form of structured pseudocommunity with an education element that builds safety and trust. It will be followed by a different kind of chaos that is mostly coming from personal anxiety within participants. Participant may even name it "internal chaos" they need to get rid of. They often do this in the first hour.
The chaos will tend to develop on a more personal basis of what truly is keeping individuals from community within themselves and the group. It may include statements about differences among races, religions, sexual preferences, their jobs and other situations that normally will take hours to develop. Discussions of differences become more authentic with words supporting understanding differences. The people are more ready to listen rather than just to argue for the sake of debate or speaking just to fill space. Bickering, squabbling or quarreling give way to more sympathetic statements that promote comprehension of differences. It is a more palatable chaos done in the spirit of community. It results in quicker transition to letting go or accepting of differences with focus on internal anxiety and what needs to be personally emptied. Participants find what needs to be lets go to be in community with themselves so they can be in community with the group. Another way of saying this is that it moves the individual to a place of higher self love and feeling worthy of love by the group.
The emptiness stage may cycle many times with the same person returning to tell more or even a different, deeper or more authentic story . The emptiness is of a more current nature rather than old stuff that matters less. It is like the energizer bunny that keeps going and going and going. Usually when groups share deeply there has to be a time of retreat to gather courage to continue. This still happens but the retreat time is less and the periods of emptiness are longer. The retreat may take the form of a project or group norming.
Community: Several facilitator's that have experience this changed introduction/workshop felt somewhat confused by what they experienced. I believe the confusion comes from the people gradually integrating all stages where individuals mix them together. The community is mixed in with the other stages in a nice way of acceptance not only of each other but of the revolving process in the stages. I have come to call this being in community while building community.
This community building is a continuously tightening spiral into deeper community. It feels more real and more authentic than some other forms of community that had very high feeling but not less personal content, sometimes referred to as the big bang or pink cloud effect.
When you first experience this type of workshop it will leave you asking questions about what happened, because it is different. You may ask: "Is this really community?" The community slowly sneaks into the group and is just there, like grace. The exit surveys tell the story when almost every person ranks the "sense of community experienced" very high, like an average of 8.8 out of 10. I have had several workshops where every participant ranked it in the highest block (10). It really does not matter what you the facilitator has felt in past workshops. What matters is what the participants feel as a group. There is an extra bonus in all of this. The introduction allows them to learn some principles of community in a deeper way and they may comment about this during the workshop: "Oh, we have just dealt with a difficult issue with love and respect". We did it!"
I have done this a number of ways and will present one way that works best for me. I have done about 5 workshops where I did the first 90 minutes of the introduction on the night before the workshop and then did 30 minutes the next morning before presenting the Rabbi's Gift. If done all in the morning of the workshop, I split the introduction into two parts with a break at about 1 ½ hours usually before or after the checkin. Time will vary with size of group.
The following is an outline of a long introduction with the interactive parts noted and times given for each element. Some elements will vary depending on the number in the workshop.
1. Sponsor Welcome/ Introduction/Housekeeping 5 - 7 min
2. Leader introduces self 3 -8 min
3. Second leader introduces self 3 -8 min.
4. Welcome to CBW. 5 min
5. Community Building Mission Statement - a thinking piece.
6. Community Building Dream/Philosophy Statement - a feeling piece
7. Can Tell You (KNOWNS) 10 min
8. Can Not Tell You (unKNOWNS) 5 -7 min.
9. Guidelines, Items 1 -4 3 - 7 min
10. Guidelines, Items 5 -7 3 -10 min.
11. Checkin - each person is asked to do the following and you go around the circle:
12. Break (optional here or before 11.)
13. Rabbi's Gift - Silence
[NOTE: Other topics can be used in place of the mission and dream. For example, with a group of youths ages 17 -19, I used the three words: trust, respect and love. I asked them to talk about what these words meant to them and how did the three words relate to each other. I have also extracted important part of the mission statement as concepts, and used only those, written on a chart and usually in a handout for all to have and take home.]
THE FCE MISSION STATEMENT:
THE FCE DREAM -PHILOSOPHY STATEMENT
State that the checkin must be done quickly and you and your coleader will model how you would like it to be done. Most people will follow your modeling if you keep it crisp and to the point. Occasionally you may get a person that wants to tell their life story and you may have to stop them politely by saying they will have time to say more later.
This is the long participatory introduction. Try it and you will like it.
Copyright by Jerry L. Hampton, 1995-2003 revised Nov. 2003
Contact Jerry Hampton: Contact