Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Group Dynamics

Do you participate in groups? I guess we all do, in a sense, if we're a family. I am fascinated by group dynamics. For many years, I was too shy and scared to participate in group discussions. Now, not so much. But any time you have a diverse bunch of people with differing personalities, opinions, ways of perceiving and doing things, you are going to have stuff to deal with.

I've spent years and years learning to manage my own "stuff." I rarely fly off the handle, unless I haven't been fed for many hours or I haven't slept in several days. Then all bets are off. But usually I maintain my center pretty well and can communicate clearly. However, even if communication is clear, issues can arise and they have to be addressed.

Yesterday was just such a day with my singing group. We'd had a business meeting last Friday to talk about our vision, as individuals and for the group. We also talked about song choices for the next program we will perform. After much discussion, we had a preliminary idea of what songs we'd consider and agreed to try them out over the next few weeks to see what works and what doesn't.

We perform at retirement communities and so our songs should be ones that folks in their late 70s, 80s and 90s will know and like. But there are also songs we've always wanted to sing that those folks may not know. Finding a balance between what we want to do and what our audience may like can be hard. Hmmm, same is true in writing, isn't it?

After this meeting, one group member had a concern about the song choices. I suggested she email the group. Another member had a negative reaction to that email. We almost lost her - she'd had a really bad day and her frustration got placed on this. This is a key member of our group. If we lost her, we couldn't do it without her. We'd have to find a replacement and that would not be easy, since we don't get paid for this and she is super talented.

What I realized is that no matter how hard you try to maintain control and please everyone and keep the peace, inevitably someone or something will happen to upset the balance. Juggling that upset is what life is all about. I am working on speaking my truth with love in every moment I am able. If I can do that, I will have overcome the major dysfunction resulting from my childhood. Remaining silent is no longer an option. What do you guys have to say about this?



Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

Grew up keeping the peace to keep a piece of me intact. As an adult I thought keeping that peace would keep hurt away from those I love. The only peace that helps is your own. Without that you can't hope to help yourself or anyone. Some battles are more important than others. Choose wisely. Some battles should never be fought -- not even gently.
Giggles and Guns

Tabitha Bird said...

It is amazing that you are posting on this because I have been thinking a lot about this lately. I have made a promise to myself that I will show up in relationships and be true to myself. That means speaking up and saying my truth, even if I think it will lead to rejection. I just want to be known and loved for who I am. Otherwise really, what is the point?

There is a huge difference between keeping the peace and keep appearances of the peace. Lots of people thing they are keeping the peace by saying nothing, but they are really just keeping the facade of peace. Which really isn't peace at all. Life is about dealing with confrontation well. There will always be plenty of opportunity to practice the skill, because we are all so darned human and imperfect. :) But I think it is worth it.

Cyndi said...

Remaining silent is no longer an option. I couldn't agree more. Where did that get us anyway? Did it ever truly help us? Of course not, it led to bottled up feelings of resentment and unworthiness and the delusion that others "should" know what is bothering us and/or know what we need and want, which led to more resentment, right? We don't have to be aggressively confrontational, it's not our nature anyway, but speaking our minds is critical to our own self-worth and overall satisfaction with our lives.

Sharon Lippincott said...

This seems to be a watershed moment for you and the group. Isn't it something the way certain events just jump out? It sounds like in this case you are unusually aware of your option to stay centered and speak from love. My guess is that if you weren't able to complete this path, you wouldn't be having these thoughts. You decision to be courageous is possibly more momentous than the actual outcome.

Joanne said...

The thing is, remaining silent to keep the peace often feels worse afterward than being honest and vocal. So the peace isn't kept internally then, but a conflict just stews instead. I wholeheartedly agree with your intent, and hope to do the same.

Jen Chandler said...

Balance in this area is so hard. I'm learning to keep my cool in all situations but there are some people (family members all) who push you until you feel if you say anything you're going to explode. So I usually stay silent, even when I should speak up. I did have an instance recently where I wanted to stay silent but knew I had to speak up. I did. There was confrontation, but once the person realized I wasn't attacking them but just concerned, everything calmed down. It's a small move, but one I'm proud of.

Mason Canyon said...

Maintain control and peace at the same time is always tricky. I don't do so well with it at times. Hope you have better luck. You seem to be on a good path.

Thoughts in Progress

Helen Ginger said...

It's even more difficult when you're working via email. Somehow, being there in person makes it easier to figure out mis-communications. It's that eye-to-eye contact.

Straight From Hel

Unknown said...

Groups bring drama, love and tears. It's amazing to have several groups in several walks of life. I have my friends, co-workers, teammates, family, book clubs, all of us are different but in each of the groups we still have similiar happy moments and not-so happy moments. Guess it's nice to know other people and really branch out!

Fantastic post!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Life would be perfect if we got rid of all the people!
Balance is tough. Can't please everyone all the time. (And if you do please everyone all the time, you're not making an impact.)

Jemi Fraser said...

I tend to play the peacemaker in all groups. I don't like conflict or seeing people upset. I'm getting better at voicing my own opinions -- most of the time :)

Vicki Rocho said...

I've been thinking about this a lot in recent years. Keeping quiet when I have something to say. I'm dealing with frustrations now that are essentially my own making because I never spoke up before.


Nothing like coming to the realization that you created your own mess to bring you down. Only upside to that is, of course, if I created it then I can clean it up again. I just have to find the courage (and the words) to set the record straight.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Helen. There is something about the instantaneousness of e-mail that makes it a medium that has the ability to really ruffle feathers. If an e-mail makes my friend angry, I try to then speak to her in person or at the very least, on the phone. Usually, I can clear things up that way and come to an understanding. Remember that e-mail is only 17 to 20 years old. Humans need time to adapt to such a change, don't we?