It’s not very often that your work gets used directly at a National Level. Here is one rare example. In 2004/5 we were asked to help Tony Blair, who due to the Iraq & his relationship with Bush had become disconnected from the British people – and most particularly female voters.
Using two-chair work in focus groups we were able to uncover the nature and source of women’s hostility and what might turn it around. Several weeks later, as part of the reconnection strategy TB uses a speech in Gateshead, seven weeks before the 2005 election to initiate a shift from his Professional/Public level of relationship to the Personal, likening the bad feeling towards him to a domestic squabble. We had advised him on the Relationship Triangle and its power in a debrief a few days earlier.
Whether it worked or not is up to you to decide. But his party’s support did increase by as much as 8% in the next six weeks running up to the election. Nearly all of that increase was with female voters.
This is the second video in my series. Click on the Thumbnail above to see the film.
This one lays out some of the important ‘socially constructed’ boundaries that face any facilitator. These boundaries determine what is permissible and what is not in each level of encounter with other(s). Inevitably the position and strength of these boundaries varies with different people. Some are much more personal, others more professional. Some have a well-developed public persona (entertainers or entertaining people for example), while others do not.
To make contact with people – and to explore things at some depth – you need to be able to cross these boundaries readily and without creating offence.
The unacknowledged existence of these levels is, I believe, one foundation of the idea of ‘talking at cross purposes’ where you want to explore something in more (or less!) depth and your group or interviewee seems to be missing the point. It’s helpful to practice these transitions if you want to reduce the amount of time you’re out of synch with each other – in your personal & private relationships too!