TITLE: The Communication Wheel Process (Clearing)*
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? Can be used for an entire team meeting
WHY DO THIS? Clear up differences between men, help men understand what is underneath a conflict
WHAT SUPPORT IS NEEDED? Needs a man to facilitate who is trained. It is not enough to have witnessed it or be familiar with the process. The facilitator must be willing to push other men’s buttons, push the man in the wheel outside of his head or comfort zone, and be an active facilitator.
WHO CAN HELP? John Butler, Mark Thorpe, Steve Fitzsimons. Many Heroes are trained.
WHAT IS THE TEAM’S ROLE? Depends on the facilitator. Generally stay silent and let the work be done by the man on the mat and the facilitator. On request from the facilitator, point out bullshit from the man on the mat or tell the facilitator how the man might be “hiding.”
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Often, there is a charge between two men. What this means is that one man may be uncomfortable in the presence of another man. This other man may evoke anger, disgust, shame, fear or some other powerful feeling in the man holding the charge. The charge may not be mutual, and, in fact, it is frequently the case that the other man is completely unaware of the charge that the first man holds.
The Communication Wheel process (also known as a “clearing”) is a structured way in which the man holding the charge can bring it out into the open and deal with it directly. He has an opportunity to look at what the charge is about, how it affects him and his relationship with the other man, and opens the door to the possibility of lessening or even removing the cause of the charge.
Requesting a “clearing”
When a man realizes that he is holding a charge between himself and another man and wants to deal with it, he can request a clearing. Sometimes other men may notice it and encourage a clearing. To do so requires that the other man be open to the process as well.
We’ll refer to the man who has the charge and has requested the clearing as the “Requestor” and the other man simply as the “Other.” I suggest this latter term for the “other” man because it evokes two important aspects. Firstly, it emphasizes that this process is entirely about the Requestor. Secondly, as we’ll see later, the role of the Other man is really to serve as a mirror to help the Requestor get to the root of his charge.
The important point at this step is to remind the Requestor that this process is to serve him and not the man with whom he is clearing. More importantly, it is essential that the Other man understands and accepts that this process IS NOT ABOUT HIM.
With these ground rules in place and with the men agreeing to participate, the two men stand and face each other. Standing helps place the men closer together so that they can make full eye contact. It also allows more room for each man to express themselves through their body language, both conscious and unconscious. Often, a staff or similar object is placed between the men and each man places one hand on the staff.
Each man may ask for support from some other man who is not part of the clearing. This “coach” is there to help each man feel safe and connected to the group. The Requestor may feel more courage to speak his truth with a trusted man at his back. The Other man may feel stronger with a man at his back reminding him that this process is really about the other guy!
A fifth man, chosen to be the Facilitator, runs the process, which typically takes four steps:
The Requestor begins with some data. The word “data” is important because what is recounted here can only be statements that are backed up with tangible data, not opinions. Often, keeping statements to data-only requires some coaching from the Facilitator to stay on process.
For example, it is NOT “data” to say something like “You’re always late!” It is data to relate a specific instance such as, “You said that you would pick me up at 8:00 and you showed up at 8:10.” That is a fact that cannot usually be disputed.
The idea behind using data-only statements is to begin the process from a place of common agreement between the two men. It is even more helpful if the data being presented was witnessed by others, to make it as concrete and indisputable as possible.
For example, it would be considered data if the Requestor said something like: “When I stood to present myself as candidate for Chief, you laughed out loud!”
The Other man mirrors back what he heard. He confirms, refutes, or reports differences in his recollection of the facts. The intention here is to confirm the data and to get both men to agree upon the same event.
The Requestor confirms the accuracy of the retelling and disputes any differences. This presentation of the facts should iterate until both men feel that they have the data correct and have heard each other accurately.
Having come to a common understanding of the data, the Requestor moves on the next step, Judgments.
Most of us know judgments pretty well but we often express them either as facts or as feelings. The idea here is to acknowledge them as judgments and NOT facts so that it can help the Requestor notice that his feelings come from his judgments of others. And there will be a place in the process for those feelings to get expressed.
A judgment is a conclusion that a man comes to when he applies his internal value system to an event. That judgment is based upon what is or is not important to him, his biases toward certain personalities or “rules” that he learned from teachers, parents and friends.
So, using one of the earlier examples, a judgment might be something like, “I judge that when you laugh at me that you think you are a better man than I am.” Or, “I judge that you think you are smarter than me when you laugh at me.” It is helpful for the Requestor to use language like “I judge” to help him focus on the judgments.
As in the previous step, the Other man should mirror the judgments that he hears from theRequester. Again, it is important for the Other man to understand that mirroring the judgments does not mean that he agrees with them. He is really only acknowledging that he hears the judgments.
It is valuable to remind the Requestor that his judgments are valid. They are part of the way that he sees the world and that there is nothing wrong with his judgments. The Facilitator can offer plenty of support here by helping the Requestor express judgments clearly and help probe to see if there are more of them “just below the surface” that the Facilitator may suspect.
A subtle touch is required from the Facilitator here. This is not his process, after all, so he should not be projecting his own judgments into the dialog J! However, the Facilitator may notice the body language of the Requestor and use his intuition to see if there is more energy there. Typically, when the Requestor has exhausted his judgments he will relax and it will show in his body language.
With the data and judgments out in the open, the process moves to the meat of the exercise, Feelings. This is where the root cause and the source of the charge begins to emerge. The Facilitator asks the Requestor to tell the Other man what feelings come up for him when these judgments occur.
As men, we often struggle with words to place on our feelings, so, to begin, a simple vocabulary of only 5 basic feelings can be offered to help get the expression of feelings going. These 5 basic feelings are: “Mad, Sad, Glad, Fear, and Shame”.
Of course, men may use other terms for these and that’s fine. But, it is helpful to avoid the use of vague terms such as, “I feel emotional…”, or “It upsets me…”. If the Facilitator can encourage the Requestor to place a more accurate word to the feeling it will help drive that feeling home for him. For example, it is more powerful to say “I felt sad when…” than it is to say “I felt upset when…”.
When feelings are expressed, perhaps for the first time for some men, it can be a powerful experience for the men doing the clearing and the men witnessing it. The witnesses can and should encourage the men doing the clearing with positive affirmations. “You’re doing good work,” “Your tears are welcome,” “I hear your anger” are all positive affirmations that theRequestor has expressed his feelings in a safe place.
It is at this stage of the process that the Requestor may be on the verge of discovering the “root cause” of his charge. Often, it may be clear to the Facilitator where the charge is likely to be coming from so he can encourage the Requestor to probe until it becomes clear to him. The Facilitator may now be able to tie these feelings back to the earlier judgments and offer probing questions such as, “When have you felt like this before?” or “Have you ever judged yourself in this same way?”
What is happening here is that the Requestor has been given the opportunity to look deeply into himself to see how events trigger judgments that are accompanied by these strong feelings. It is not about making him “wrong” for feeling these emotions. What the process has done is bring them out into the open, given them a name and helped the Requestor to see what causes them.
It is in this manner that the Other man is shown to simply be a mirror that was useful in revealing to the Requestor something important about himself. In fact, it is often valuable to ask the Requestor a question like “When you look in this man’s eyes, what of yourself do you see?” That makes the concept of mirror even stronger J.
Negotiations Go Last
Once the Requestor has had a chance to feel and express his feelings and associate them with specific judgments, he has been given the opportunity to see how he reacts to certain situations. He has seen where his charge with the Other man comes from.
This is the place where the Requestor may make a request of the Other man. For example, if the Requestor had a real charge about people being late, and had a chance to learn that when people arrive late he feels undervalued and dismissed, perhaps, then he may make a clear request to the Other man. For example, he can ask, “In the future, Punctuality is a value for me. I request that when we have a time agreement, you do you best to meet it and notify me as early as practicable if you will be late.”
This part of the process allows the Requestor to not only understand where his charge comes from but also to be able to make clear requests of others because such things are important to him. In other words, it helps to teach the man to not only understand what is important to him but also to be able to ask for it J!
Of course, the Other man is not required to comply either. This part of the process is to help illustrate how negotiations among men can be made to work cleanly. The Other man may simply deny the request, “I’m sorry, but I am just too disorganized to be reliable about getting there on time.” He can agree unequivocally, “Sure. I can do that!”. Or he can negotiate an alternative, “I’ll do my best and if I am going to be late I will call you. Is that OK?”
This negotiation can go back and forth until some agreement between the men is achieved or until the Facilitator senses that everything that is to be obtained from the process is complete. In fact, the Facilitator will typically close the process by asking each man “Are you complete?” Usually the answer is “Yes!” and the two men find themselves released from the process.
The men in support of the Requestor and the Other man should also complete in some overt fashion by way of a supporting comment or a hug.
A Final Point
It is frequently the case that the charge that initiated the clearing in the first place may bring up a different charge in the Other man. It is also possible that both men have a charge with each other but it is important to distinguish that they are different charges.
Therefore, the process works best when only one clearing at a time is processed. That is, at the outset, decide which man goes first and follow the process through to the end. In this fashion, it remains very clear throughout the process that one man is doing the work and the other man is “only” the mirror.
At the negotiation phase, the Facilitator may realize that negotiations are not really possible without completing the “reverse” clearing. At this point the roles switch and the second clearing is started from the beginning through to the end. It may even be that the data events are different for each of these clearings.
Then, when the second man has worked through the process, the negotiation phase may be completed.
- Please note that this is not the only way to do this process and we may or may not be accurately portraying an official representation of the New Warriors’ method. We are not affiliated with the New Warriors and we’re not intending to represent their views here.