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Group Practices: Container Contraction
Creating Physical Containers

Sometimes a small room or tiny work space seems to contribute to the experience of container contraction that accompanies group resonance. Imagine how it might feel to have a family of four seated at a formal dining table constructed to seat eight; now imagine the same family sharing a picnic laid out on a beach towel at the shore.

Examine the physical layout of the space your group works, meets or gathers in. If it is large and people are spread out, how could you create a smaller container? A work group with desks in separate cubicles or offices might spontaneously congregate around the literal or proverbial water cooler. One work group in a Manhattan office usually had their morning coffee and bagel gathered around the desk of a particularly gregarious colleague. After they’d begun this practice, they noticed they seemed more inclined to recognize when they came across information that would be useful to share with a colleague, or to be tuned in to each colleague’s mood and how best to connect with him or her that particular day.

Perhaps you have a group that meets regularly in a room designed to hold much larger groups. Try holding one meeting in a smaller space and notice if there is a difference in the group’s sense of connectedness. In a time of stressful or frenetic activity around a project, set up a “zone room” to contain the group’s efforts, and encourage people to work there and meet there as much as possible.

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