Photo: Ken Cedeno/Greenpeace, via Guardian
We are going to have to organize ourselves in our communities, in the U.S. and beyond. In the face of the rapid rise of right-wing xenophobic populism, orchestrated by Big Money which intends to mop up, we need to respond immediately with defiant solidarity across differences.
Organizing is very slow and it can be frustrating. Meetings can be difficult because of conflicting interests not to mention personalities. We can all improve. If everyone follows these tips—some of which are obvious, some of which are counterintuitive (over-agreeing)—meetings suddenly get much less annoying and more productive.
I was given this list by a friend who found them here (printable version)—and there are many other resources on that website as well. Printing them and handing them out at the beginning of meetings could save everyone a lot of time and anguish.
Also, great use of textiles, Greenpeace.
POSITIVE GROUP ROLES
• Give clear direction and purpose to the group.
• Help the group identify and state its goals, and keep the group focused on achieving its goals.
• Suggest procedures for achieving goals.
• Identify, clarify, and define problems.
INFORMATION GIVING AND CLARIFYING
• Show the group which information is relevant to its work and help to decrease confusion.
• Request or provide relevant facts, define terms.
ELABORATING AND SUMMARIZING
• Try to show consequences of plans and positions, and show how ideas in the group are relating to each other.
• Give examples, explain, pull together related ideas, and offer conclusions.
• Look for and lift up areas of unity and agreement. Help the group move towards consensus.
• Help the group move toward and make decisions.
• Initiate discussion on and agreement about how decisions are made.
• Propose tentative solutions to problems, initiate examination of how well the proposed solutions
meet the needs of the group.
COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION FOCUSING
• Maintain open communication. Suggest procedures for discussion.
• Ask for information and opinions from others and listen to others.
• Draw out others’ opinions, give recognition to others. Accept others’ opinions.
• Be friendly, warm, responsive to others.
• Seek full identification and use of all members’ resources.
• Call the group’s attention to people’s feelings and reactions to ideas, suggestions, course of
• Express your own feelings.
• Identify, acknowledge, and help to reconcile differences. Get people to explore differences.
• Help reduce tension, identify and suggest common ground.
• Be willing to let your opinion change throughout the meeting.
• Make the group aware of how it is working on its task.
• Call attention to group process, identify recurring interactional patterns and group needs
unmet by the current process.
• Initiate evaluation of the group’s emotional climate, members’ satisfaction, etc.
NEGATIVE GROUP ROLES
AGREEING AND ACCEPTANCE SEEKING
• Be quick to agree with the ideas of others and provide uncritical agreement.
• Use your agreement to gain acceptance from members of the group who you want to think well
DISAGREEING AND FIGHTING
• Be quick to disagree with the ideas of others; struggle aggressively for your ideas and your place in the group.
• Focus on individual needs, rather than the needs of the group or organization as a whole.
DOMINEERING AND RECOGNITION SEEKING
• Actively and continually assert yourself in the group.
• Take charge by imposing a set of ideas and molding all other ideas to these focal ideas.
• Draw attention to yourself by using jokes, making funny comments in relation to others’ ideas,
and by sitting and moving in ways which draw attention to yourself.
• Interrupt others.
• Bring fully formulated ideas and proposals to the meeting and request that the group decide on
these without prior discussion or brainstorming. Respond to questions or proposed changes as
personal attack or a lack of appreciation for your hard work.
• Slow down group process by preventing group decision-making.
• Draw attention to every detail of unclarity and every unexplored source of conflict.
• Encourage people not to compromise and not to give assent to group procedures and ideas.
CYNICISM AND PESSIMISM
• Indicate suspicion of the motives of others.
• Point out all difficulties, indicate the likelihood of error and failure and the difficulty groups have in successfully solving problems.
• Greet changes in positions, feelings, and opinions as evidence of mindless compliance or
DRIFTING AND CHECKING OUT
• Let your attention wander.
• If given the opportunity, indicate via body language, words, facial expressions, or tone that you
are bored and wish the meeting to be over so you can do something else.
• When your attention is on the group, indicate directly or indirectly you low level of commitment
to ideas, decisions, and the group itself.
• Whatever the topic being discussed, relate it to your own personal experience.
• Insist on group members relating their ideas, suggestions, decision alternatives, and concerns
to examples from your personal experience.
I’m pretty sure most of us are guilty of at least one of the items on the negative list.