HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? Basic learning – one team meeting. Ongoing – Lifetime
WHY DO THIS? Establish a basic framework for providing and receiving support
WHAT SUPPORT IS NEEDED? Needs a facilitator experienced in men’s work, comfortable with soft and hard support
WHO CAN HELP? Any hero, any senior NOM member
WHAT IS THE TEAM’S ROLE? Team discussion, all team members must participate
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Goal: The goals of this process are:
- For team members to understand what support is, and is not
- For team members to explore how they are supportable and how they are not
- To introduce a team technology to use when asking for support
- To surface any conflicts or dull edges around support on the team, that can then be addressed in another format
Background: This is not a complicated process, but a guided conversation. It can be used with healthy teams, and teams facing challenges. It is NOT designed to “fix” a team with issues around support, however! If conflicts or challenges with a particular man arise, or team members have differing expectations and desires around giving and receiving support, those challenges should be clarified at the end of the process and a follow-up should be planned to address them.
Stage 1: Exploring Support
Opening Reading: The Core of Masculinity by Rumi. The purpose of this reading is to introduce ready-made fuel into the conversation on “what is support?”
Initial Questions (whole team – in any order, as long as the topics are covered):
- What is ”support?”
- What does it feel like to receive support? “Hard” support or “soft” support?
- What does it feel like not to be supported?
- What does it mean when a man is “unsupportable?”
2^nd^ Question (each man): What support do you crave, and what support do you fear? (Clarification: for this question, don’t explain too much and let the men answer the question they hear. If necessary, help men get to the deeper desires – for example, I crave being heard, and I fear being discounted. If relevant, note any connections between cravings and fears.)
3^rd^ Question (each man): When are you unsupportable, and what keeps you from being supportable? (If clarification is needed: Not what can’t you hear from someone else, but what, inside yourself, stops you from opening yourself up to support that’s being offered? For example, when I believe no one else shares my problems, I get up on my high-horse and stop listening.)
Follow-up question: ask the team to reflect what the man has said, and state whether or not they have experienced this in the man. Ask why/why not.
Stage 2: Giving Support
After the discussion and reflection, introduce the following technology:
Technology for asking for the support you want (from Circles of Men 3):
When sharing an issue with the team, clarify which of the following responses you want:
- I am sharing this information and do not request feedback
- I would like to hear from men who have been in this situation/had this problem and hear how they handled it
- I am open to advice from anyone on the team
- I want to get my ass kicked and then I will make a commitment to the team about how I am going to handle this situation/problem
Ask for a commitment to use or practice this technique (for example, for the next meeting, next month, etc.)
Stage 3: Evaluating the Team
Ask the men to rate this team on the quality of support given to the men on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best support ever, 1 being no support at all. Ask the men to put their hands in the center of the circle with the number of fingers out representing the quality of support.
Follow-up Question and Discussion:
- Did anything surprise you about the results? Discuss. (Do not allow this to become an argument about one man’s ranking of the team. Keep the conversation productive for the team as a whole.)
Final Wrap Up:
Ask the men if they see any issues on the team around support that need further specific work. If there are, help them formulate next steps to address those issues. Get specific commitments to move forward.