Johnnie Moore

Wiggly toes and creativity

Sometimes, unlikely, even absurd-sounding changes lead to powerful creativity
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

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

The unlikely creativity of small interventions

Transcript of this video:

A few weeks ago I was working with a group using this Groundhog process that I like for experimenting with coming up with more effective responses to people who say very provocative things to us.

We were working with an example of a woman who had to respond to a male colleague who would typically say rather patronizing and sexist things to her.

And we were working with a particular example of this. Now we’ll call this guy just the antagonist to protect the guilty.

I can’t actually remember what the thing was that he said except that we all knew it was really patronising and sexist and we were experimenting with 30, 40, 50 different ways that you might respond to such a man.

And you know, we tried calling him on his behavior. We tried asking powerful questions. We tried a number of things. Some of them sort of worked but we hadn’t really cracked it.

And then my friend Claire Scobie who was in the group, suggested to the to the protagonist in this conversation that this time before responding to the bloke, she wiggle her toes.

And I thought, well, that’s a ridiculous suggestion – we should definitely give that a try. And so we did.

We had someone roleplaying the bloke, say the sexist and patronizing thing, and the participant wiggled her toes. And before she even spoke you could see a difference in her face. There was like a glint in her eye a slight smile in, in her expression. And she was able to respond to him. And again, I actually can’t remember the content.

The content perhaps wasn’t that important. She somehow was able to respond to this guy in a way that suggested that his his words did not hurt her or impacted her that they’d kind of just bounced off. If you like.

It was a way of sort of saying implicitly that she just wasn’t going to respond to this nonsense. It was, it was very powerful and I absolutely love that. One of the things I love about it is you are welcome of course to try wiggling your toes next time you’re dealing with a difficult person.

But I kind of love that it won’t always work cos the point is not that specific instruction, brilliant though it turned out to be. It’s the spirit of trying something different to break our routine.

And just this morning my friend Suw Charman wrote a lovely post about how she’s been experimenting when feeling writer’s block with writing using a different font.

And she’d been trying out a whole series of slightly playful and absurd and exuberant fonts. And she says, every time she changes the font she feels renewed enthusiasm for the creative task.

It’s just another example of using a playful, perhaps slightly absurd intervention to discover just below the surface of things that feel stuck, There’s all this potential for aliveness.

I’m also just gonna do that thing I occasionally do at the end of these videos is to put a little promotional item in. If You’re interested in this Groundhog process, every once in a while I run an online coaching session where a few of us get together to play with it. You get a chance to learn about the process but also to experiment with how to be more effective in dealing with really difficult people. If you’re interested in coming along it would be lovely to see you and thanks for watching.

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Photo by Tucker Good on Unsplash

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