Book review: The Zen of Groups

This “Handbook on meeting people with a purpose” by Dale Hunter, Anne Bailey and Bill Taylor weighs in at a little under 200 pages, but it is packed with useful information. I bought it on amazon mainly because the title made me curious, and it was a quick and interesting read.

There isn’t much earth-shattering new info, but what’s there is solid and above all useful. The first 80 pages take you on a tour on some of the basics of group interactions, while the last 120 pages describe 95 meeting tools that you can use for a variety if purposes. From team-building tools to tools for identifying and expressing feelings .

“What’s this,” I hear you cry, “feelings?” The authors base their work on the fact, that the people surrounding you in the workplace aren’t colleagues, co-workers or ressources; they’re people with thoughts and emotions that are crucial both to their own well-being and to their ability to perform well in organizations. Consequently, many of the tools described focus on creating a time and space for the group where people can go into themselves and connect to their feelings and/or share these with the group.

If you’re a novice to or uncomfortable with the concept of bringing your emotions to work, the book and it’s exercises may be a little too advanced, though I certainly recommend giving it a shot. If you’re already convinced of the importance of sharing thoughts and emotions in the workplace, the book contains a lot of concrete tools that will help you along.

A warning: I would never use tool 92 “Self- and peer assessment”. It strikes me as much too intense. I’ve been on a course where we did a similar exercise, but then it was with two psychologists present.

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