Johnnie Moore

Turn taking

not getting stuck at the centre of attention
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

The second part of “monarchy or mesh”

moving through the spotlight

Transcript of this video:

In my last video, I, shared two alternative ways

of operating in the world.

and in this first diagram, we see ourselves

or perhaps a heroic leader as being at the centre

of attention, compared to this one,

which is I think a slightly more natural way of thinking

of our place in the system, if you like,

as there is no centre.

And we’re part of a much more elaborate,

interconnecting mesh of connections.

And I wanted to follow up by saying

that I shared these two diagrams

with some students I was working

with here when we were exploring performance games as a way

of training in how to perform together.

And these are taken from improv theater

and they often involve turn taking.

’cause they provide a very simple way of exploring

what it’s like to take turns effectively together.

So you might play a game like soundball.

So in soundball, you stand in a circle,

maybe you’ve got 20 people in the circle.

And one player starts the game by throwing an imaginary ball

to someone else in the circle

and making an inarticulate sound like they might

throw it and go, whoosh.

And the rule is that the player it’s thrown to is expected

to catch it repeating the incoming sound, whoosh,

and throw it to someone else with the sound of their own,

boing, to someone else.

Someone else goes, boing, catches it, throws it with ha

to someone else, and so on and so forth.

A simple, apparently quite silly.

game does bring out some quite interesting human dynamics.

So often when a player is suddenly thrown the ball,

they find themselves momentarily, at least, in the centre

of the network receiving everyone’s attention.

And one response to this is to panic,

which in some ways I think is the more natural reaction

to being at the centre of a lot of human attention.

I’m not sure we are really primally wired to be there.

So if they panic, they tend to freeze

and they slow the game down.

So that’s not a particularly satisfactory response,

even if it’s a natural one.

The other slightly less frequent one is

to actually rather relish being at the centre of attention,

take rather too long taking their turn and,

and play a little power game of ooh,

looking at several different people

before actually throwing it.

And that also slightly frustrates the satisfaction

of the game because the game is actually most satisfying

to the most people when there’s good turn taking.

When people don’t panic when they receive the ball,

they take it graciously and they pass it on smoothly.

And the point I make to teams is

that it’s often in the smooth interactions

between team members

that people watching find the most satisfaction.

So if you’re presenting, yes,

of course you wanna take your turn,

but people will be very sensitive to the relationship

that they see

between team participants when they hand

off from one to another.

And when I’m training facilitators, I often do an exercise

of two people co-facilitating,

Which tends to bring out

that if those two facilitators pass off graciously

but relatively spontaneously between each other,

it’s very comforting to the group.

And I often say that that relationship can sometimes do more

for what some people call psychological safety.

than spending 15 minutes laboriously listing the rules

that we’re all going to follow.


Photo by Sunder Muthukumaran on Unsplash

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