Friday, November 16, 2012

The King Of Group Dynamics Returns

Oh God, it's been a long time! A long time coming, baby! Getting back to group dynamics. Where I ought to be.

Here's how it happened. I met a guy at a restaurant downtown, who told me he was in the inspiring talking biz. Roger was in town for a two day thing at the Holiday Inn, giving talks on "How You Can Be Your Best." And he was a little down because on the second day he'd had a surprise resignation, he said, one of the group facilitators for the discussion portion of his presentation.

I got a big fat grin on my face, and he, making something of an intuitive leap, said, "What? You?" I gave a real sly smile and said, simply, "You got it, Ace. I'm an old timer in the group dynamics biz!" We'd already shaken hands a couple times, once upon meeting and once upon agreeing that the coffee was good, but he extended his hand a third time, each of us having found, at least temporarily, something of a soul mate. (We later were to shake hands a fourth time, upon departing.)

We talked it over. He wanted to know how good I was. He pointed to a couple over by the wall. She was crying, he was looking at the newspaper. He quizzed me: "What's up with them?" I said, "She's sad and he's stubborn," just like that passing the audition. This would have been a prime opportunity for shaking hands again, especially with me adding, "And a hot chick like that, he should be kissing her feet!"

I met him later at the Holiday Inn. He had a nice room overlooking an indoor pool, probably heated. I noted the close proximity of his room to the ice machine, and discerned he might be an alcoholic. I asked for my money upfront, which he was apparently used to, as he offered no resistance.

Imagine then my lack of surprise when I returned at 6 p.m. (the meeting would start at 7), to find him passed out in a drunken stupor, and ice scattered everywhere. I had no alternative, since I'm such a die-hard freak for group dynamics, but to borrow one of his nicest suits and head down to the meeting room. I figured, you know, a subject like "How To Be Your Best" would be something I could easily wing, because, frankly, who's better than me?

At the meeting room, I reviewed the Three R's of Group Dynamics: 1) aRrange, 2) Reconnoiter; and, 3) Ruminate. Since I'm the originator of the 3 R's, it took me very little effort to master them. As far as aRranging goes, the tables looked fine, the podium, and the windows. I said a prayer for luck and expertise.

Some of Roger's other helpers were there, checking people in. They didn't know me, but I assured them Roger was fine, only passed out cold, and that I had his personal blessing. One of them had charge of the multimedia and I quickly reviewed the points. It was all standard stuff, like "You can be your best, Believe in yourself, You're the only you," and some interesting things about having learned in Kindergarten everything you need to know. I suddenly realized, If that's true, I wasted seven years of my life before finally dropping out...

The crowd gathered. Many of them looked like whatever inferiority complex they had coming in was justified. They'd be putty in my hands. My opening was, "Each one of you is the best person here. What do I mean by that? I mean exactly what I said: Each one of you is the best person here." With everyone sufficiently complimented, I got into the meat of my presentation. I stepped through the various truisms of the subject, then we broke into groups.

I told them they would need one leader and one secretary/reporter, because we would be sharing our "findings." My honest opinion is this is always a waste of everyone's time, but, hey, it's on their dime. Anyway, it gave me a chance to stretch out and flex my group dynamics muscles, with lots of reconnoitering and ruminating. I gave a nice shoulder pat to each leader and a thumbs up to each secretary/reporter, making them delve into the subject that much more diligently.

When we reconvened the group, I honored their diligence by faux-wiping my brow and saying, "That was a lot of great work, a lot of work!" A spontaneous demonstration was their response, with the several tables of participants hoisting their leaders and secretaries on their shoulders and parading them into the hall and back. I took this as a monumental testimony to my group dynamics chops.

The secretaries gave their reports, that "Being Your Best" is simply a matter of making it happen, as each of us has the hidden potential and its immediate fulfillment upon this discovery and acting to make it happen. I joked, "I hate to say that I just worked myself out of a job, but that's exactly what's happened!" The honor was all theirs, I said, heaping upon them effusive, prolonged praise. I've always found this is the number one group dynamics technique for them to give me even greater honor. We hugged tenderly.

The whole thing was over in two short hours. I returned to Roger's room just as he was coming to. He was all anxious about the meeting "coming up," and was frantic when he heard it was already over. "What the sam hell!" he bellowed, "Why didn't you wake me up?!" I told him he was too drunk -- drunk as a skunk -- and that I had covered it.

He had no choice but to admit that he had been bested by ... the best!

No comments: