A response to Listening for Energy...a conversation with Tom McCallum

Posted by Bruce Peters

Young woman with a hearing disorder or hearing loss cupping her hand behind her ear with her head turned aside to try and amplify and channel the available sound to her ear drumI've been derailed from writing for some time.   It’s so much easier for me to write and, indeed, speak in the context of a conversation or better yet truly a learning conversation.

Why to write may be an issue for everyone who picks up a pen or sits down with a keyboard. There is a part of me that is restrained by the additional thought, "Do I have something to say?” Or, “Isn't it arrogant to believe that others should listen, through reading my words?”  

Underlying all of the above is the additional fear that, quite frankly, I suck at it! But, on occasion, it becomes necessary to write despite all the self-doubting noise in my head constraining me.

All that said having a context for writing and a person to write to is paramount for getting me going.   The more relevant the context and the greater the relationship are the primary movers.

This was the case with a recent email conversation I had with Tom McCallum. The context of the conversation was his sharing of the energetic, indeed,  moving experience he had as the facilitator of a recent retreat, where he was adept at holding the space and managing  the group’s energy. This resonated for me and related to  the work of Wilfred Bion which I referenced in my response.

{Bion’s} research technique would be to call a meeting and then sit silently and take notes as to the reactions of the individuals and the group. In addition to specific behaviors he was in a way, also, observing energy.

In a nutshell no matter what or who was in the Group the behaviors and responses of the Group were essentially the same. The anxiety of silence and how people deal with it turned out to provide clues if not the doorway to how to get through.

His approach was sort of the penultimate version of self organizing. In his case he provided virtually no context and just observed. Every time I revisit his work and thought process I am astounded at the courage it must have taken to just sit in silence…..not try to fix or intervene in any way. It was a magnificent gift to the participants.

The elegant simplicity of “manage meaning” and “maximize connection” evolved into my questions “why are we here?” and “how are we to here together?”

It seems to me your “beautiful” process did both!”

Tom was kind enough to publicly acknowledged what I wrote to him.  You can read the Tom’s blog post here: Listening for Energy.

The idea that context drives behaviors is core part of my work’s message. In a nutshell, change the context, change the behavior. True for me, true for you, and true for those with whom we share time and learning. 

Wilfred Bion, who was a magnificent student and chronicler in "Experiences in Groups"  "managing meaning" and "maximizing connection." 

To Bion, answering the questions, "Why are we here?" and "How are we to be here together?" set the context for all high performing groups. 

What is the context and answers for you, your family, your team?

Schedule your free 1/2 hour Guidance Session with Bruce now!

Topics: Beyond Teal

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