Saturday, September 23, 2006

Feeling-based learning

I am back from my training with the Genuine Contact program. It was one of those experiences that altered the way I percieve the world in fundamental ways. I changed the way I perceive myself, organizations and meetings. We worked with material that I had encountered before as I got trained to be an adult educator, but I got it at a deeper level. When I have taken learning style or personality type assessment, I tended to test out at a "feeler/intuitive/emotional" type of person. But there are three other orientations as well: the watcher, thinker, and doer.

In the workshop we broke out into groups with people that had a similar orientation to us. Not surprisingly I met with the woman that I had felt most connected to at the workshop. Our assignment was to note what we needed from a facilitator or teacher coming from the perspec tive of our learning style, and we were very excited about having the opportunity to express the experiences of the feeling-based person.

This perspective is not articulated very often, and certainly not in a business context. Feeling-based processes are not usually welcomed. This is a shame because there is a lot of value in getting in touch with one's feelings. With this comes intuition, opening space, "critical feeling," and attending to how things feel. In its broadest application, it is a quality of life issue.

Below are the things that we were able to capture on paper. The minimum requirements that we need from a facilitator/educator:
  • Invite feelings into the process. Make it okay to have and express them. Articulate this explicitly. Say it with authenticity.
  • Don't be reactive or judgmental when feelings are expressed. Of course if you do have reactions or judgments and then supress them, we will be able to feel that. So if you do have these reactions, it is better to acknowledge and own them. They are not wrong. It is okay. It helps us if they are out on the table.
  • Express your acceptance for the feeling side of the spectrum with your body language (nods, eye contact, open posture, etc.)
  • Accept your OWN feelings. This is the key to accepting someone else's.
Icing on the cake would be to understand the process of emotional learning.

  • I need to stop and feel in order to learn and remember. It may take me some time to process. I may need to go away from the learning environment and digest what has been presented to me before I can open to more.
  • Learning evokes strong emotions in me sometimes.
  • There is a continuous flow of emotions that goes along with the material I am being presented with.

This is not a problem for us, as long as it is not a problem with you. As Jewel wrote "I'm sensitive, and I want to stay that way."

We are very sensitive to the "energy field" of the meeting.

  • disturbances in the energy field (denial, judgements) flood us with "distracting" feelings
  • we have a hard time attending to learning content if there are funky interpersonal dynamics in the room
  • if other people are having an emotional reaction, we usually have an emotional response to that that we need to process

We are sensitive to the fact that emotions and especially their expression do not have a lot of acceptance in many contexts

  • we are upset about this, and when this is blatant it triggers our feelings about having our way of being rejected
  • we have a lot of energy going into self-monitoring to check our expression so that we will be accepted
  • we are very sensitive to whether the emotional orientation has acceptance or not
  • situtaions where the people are closed to our orientation can trigger feelings of anger, dispair, self-doubt about our value, guilt about wanting to have acceptance, and on and on
  • it is very scary to express our feelings about this

After we posted our flip chart paper we sat on the couch with a blanket over our heads. We felt extremely vulnerable to bring this forward. But it was also very exhilerating to do so.

We also got to learn about the needs of folks with other orientations. That was extremely valuable. I got a better sense of the implications of orientation when designing meetings or lesson plans that included everybody in the room. I need to give time for the watchers to reflect on their experiences. I need to provide data for the thinkers. I need to give the doers something to do.

So what does all of this have to do with the intersection of community and sustainability? For me, everything. These issues/topics have a strong emotional content for me. I want a community that includes emotional processes. I want to allow for emotional responses to the issues that come up when we consider sustainability.

I also want to open space for myself to broaden the content area of my blog. I am feeling more confident that I can simply come from my own point of view and add it to the collective pool of knowledge. That is the beauty of blogs. They provide so many points of view, and when someone is writing from their own place, I learn about theirs and can include it in my holding of the world. I can even broaden my own opint of view.

As an emotionally-based person I often have to go through a range of emotions to get to that magic place of acceptance. I may have to cry, rage, tremble... but this is the healing process, and I am dedicated to following that.


Perri said...

I love this article, Liz. Thank you for speaking from your point of view. I learn like you do and it takes me time to process information and if I don't process, I get into trouble and land where I don't want to be.

Liz Logan said...

Thank you Perri! It is exciting to discover that I can bring my POV forward.
I have the same problem with ending up in trouble if I don't follow my feelings. It has been a long road to learn to listen to them and trust them.

أبل said...

Liz this is very helpful and spiritual words it help me very well thanks