Reaching the fourth stage (true community) takes facilitation. And although the less interventions the two or more facilitators need to make the better, usually it does take at least a few skilled interventions from the facilitators to guide the group in the right direction.
To a certain degree the group needs to figure it out for itself. It has to do its own work, work no one can do instead of it. However, if left to its own devices entirely, it would take much, much longer than two or three days for the group to figure it all out on its own.
There are some facilitators who expect and let the spirit do all the facilitation and lead the group. Which is appropriate once the group enters emptying and especially true community. But based on my experience, the spirit does not let itself be sensed in the stages of pseudocommunity or chaos. The spirit operates on a deeper level.
Note: I have heard of some highly respected facilitators who have been successful with this approach. So a part of me is still curious about how often and under what circumstances this no-intervention-facilitation worked for them. However, I would not go for this approach myself, at least not now.
Most groups tend to avoid even the chaos stage (where tension, disagreement and conflict surface), and even more the emptying phase. Emptying or letting go is quite uncommon, and it is not a natural thing to look for doing for a newcomer.
So the role of the facilitators are very important in gently but firmly pointing the way forward. In the pseudocommunity stage, especially if this phase seems to go on endlessly, the facilitators' role is to encourage the group to express displeasure and differences.
Only after the group starts voicing disagreements and dissatisfaction can the more honest and transparent chaos phase start in wich people tell it as it is. Because the chaos stage is filled with tension, the goup can go back into the more superficial pseudocommunity stage if an intervention is done too soon. So a facilitator does it well to allow the group to be in this stage for a while and gather its own experiences about what works and what doesn't. Timing an intervention is also important.
Groups generally tend to organize themselves in small groups or some kind of speaking topic and order in an attempt to put an end to chaos. That is human. That is instinctive. The facilitators' important role is to point out that the only way from the chaos to community is through emptiness.
Both steps, and especially entering the emptying phase, are challenging. It is just human and natural to try to avoid them. The important role of the facilitators is to shut the door towards the attempts we know -based on decades of experiences- that don't work (like organizing, fixing and so on).
Sitting, waiting and not saying anything as a facilitator won't get the job done in most of the cases. This is so simply because the group tends to wander too much into activities, assumptions and attitudes that don't lead to true community. At least, this has been my experience as a participant.
Once people get familiar with sharing and vulnerability, they do it right from the beginning of a workshop.
Pseudocommunity is like being polite and allowing others to share. The reason groups with more experienced people get stuck, is that sharing gives us the impression that people do what they are supposed to do: be open and vulnerable.
However the problem is, that sharing in itself does not necessarily mean that the person is also moved to speak.
Leaving this sophisticated pseudocommunity then it is not so easy, especially because the participants think that the group is already in emptying. The assumption somehow is, that we should not object to other's sharing so people don't express displeasure and stay polite.
So in a nutshell: because participants are familiar with sharing and everyone kind of assumes that Community Building is all about sharing, and suppose that when someone shares he or she is also moved, the group tends to stay in pseudocommunity or in a subtle chaos when the majority of participants are experienced with CB.
So the only way forward is to say: I hear what you are saying, and I am sorry to tell you that I somehow don't like listening to that sharing right now. This certainly can errupt some arguments from the people who think everyone should listen to whatever is being said. But hey, chaos is the only way forward.
And the missing argument in the chaos stage tends to be the following: just because you share some personal stuff, it does not necessarily mean you are moved to speak. And in case no one in the group brings up the argument, the group stays in its sophisticated pseudocommunity and lets participants feel disillusioned and frustrated.
I have sure missed this argument. I have sure been reluctant to express displeasure when people seemed to be speaking personally. I have even been reluctant to speak up when others did not seem to care about the guidlines.
So, hopefully I now know better and can save myself from pointless waiting, hoping and wondering.
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