Social Dynamics

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

December 16, 2010


Categories: Food

Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

You ever have a conversation with someone about an idea that wants to be implemented, and then, at some point one or both of you say, “I never thought of that!”? I have. On many occasions. I like to think of myself as a pretty thorough person, and as I get to know a process, I pride myself in my competition to think of all those little things. So, then, when presented, the other person can be amazed at my thoroughness. Okay, so there’s my haughty side, and I’m telling you, I do this, state, “Huh, I never thought of that,” weekly, and sometimes daily.

This is why doing things in groups, and not solo, are often a good idea. I think many of us get that pull, when doing a thing, to say, “Forget it! I’m going to do it my way! This is too hard!” But, if we had a little patience, persistence, and peace of mind, I think we would see that the group way is the way to go. We are better together. We have better ideas together. We have more viewpoints together. We have more fun together.

As an Executive Assistant, it is my job to make sure, for example, that all the materials and logistics for a meeting are taken care of. Sometimes, time crunches, beyond my control, happen, and I need the rest of the players, the rest of the team, to help me out. Better together. When that happens, the positive synergy that results is magnificent. If you are aware enough to recognize it. People knowing their roles, willing to support a uniform cause, even if it’s as trite as running a meeting! The feeling you get, of being a part of a team, is wonderful and empowering.

Okay, so I entitled this post Social Dynamics, so what does that have to do with the power of healthy group thinking and action? Everything.


Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

As an adult, I am amused at our insistence that journalists, for example, should be neutral and objective. Where did we forget that everyone has a bias? Everyone has a history. Everyone has a point of view. And, in some way, I believe that everyone has an agenda.

The agenda might not be dramatic. It might be dramatic. It might be for good. It might be for the good of one and the ill of others. Being able to assess the character and objectives of others in groups is very important, even if it’s just being able to recognize that one of your players as a specific agenda.

Our food club has agreed to decide things by consensus. Most of us, more than 90%, are new to consensus, but it has a few key elements that ring true to us. For some, they grasped onto the interpretation that majority rule subconsciously insights war. For others, it was the attempt at ensuring and empowering people to have a voice. For others, it was the very real way in which we make group decisions. One thing we did at our last meeting, for example, was to ask everyone to say yes, no, or why not when faced with a proposal. Just a Round Robbin, do you agree or not, and let’s list those concerns.

Levi picking up trash
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Being a staff person, a founding board member, a new board member, and a participant on various committees has given me an incredibly interesting look at these group dynamics. City meetings are run very differently than the board meetings where I am a relatively (into the 2nd year of my 2 year term) new board member. City committee meetings are run very differently than City Council meetings (familiar with red, yellow, green timing?). Meetings where I and a handful of others have meeting experience and the rest don’t are very different than meetings with established board members and staff. Yet, amidst all those differences they have some very core commonalities: the economy affects everyone’s budget, old problems are often new, and they are looking to a group for a reason, which is usually the varied viewpoints.

We are better together. When we are open to hear other points of view, other ideas, other ways of doing things – great things happen. You make the world in which you live your oyster, for the good of your community. You make change. You can make change. You can make positive, lasting change, together.

"Better Together"

Image by taberandrew via Flickr

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