As the easy going Summer turns into the structured Fall I have been thinking about groups.
I am in a lot of groups!
Work groups, social groups, groups related to my intrests, groups I have to be in because of my kids or husband. Groups, groups, groups! Just a bushel and a peck of groups!
Now, let me toot my own horn for a moment. I have always been very good about fitting into groups and I enjoy learning about new groups.
Never have I been afraid to meet new people and I love playing detective in new situations, figuring out who is top dog and why; what is taboo in the group dynamic and how relationships work. Of course it can be nerve racking, but at the same time I enjoy the challenge of trying to figure it out. And who knows, you might find it interesting also. But in case you don’t check back to my blog later and I might talk about puppies!
So I was introduced to a new group setting last week and here is what I have learned so far….
Step 1 – Observation of uniform.
People in groups tend to dress alike, even you. Don’t get all, “No one tells me how to dress, I am an individual!” Whatever! You are not going to wear a ball gown or a three piece suit to your best friends Tolkien marathon movie night party, but you may wear your elf ears and you know it! So, the first thing I noticed in this group that they favored muted colors. My bright red shirt on Monday and bright pink pants on Tuesday stuck out a like a very vivid sore thumb against everyone’s basic black skirts and calming beige cardigans. Note to self – tone it down!
Step 2- Food values- what do they eat and when do they eat.
This was a big change! In one of my old groups everyone ate around everyone else. People went to lunch together, gave donuts or cookies as gifts; food was a social event. In the new group ….not at all! As a matter of fact, it seems to me they are viewing it as taboo. No one eats together or offers food to anyone. When they do eat it is as far away as possible from the group. Note to self- keep the Snickers bars hidden!
Step 3 – Humor – one man’s knee slapper is another man’s “I can’t believe you just said that!”
This is one of the toughest areas to get figured out for me as I have always been quick with a joke. But the good news is I’m not stupid and I have the sense to keep my mouth shut most of the time. Several of my current groups consist of people who have generally the same life experiences or the same interests as each other, so what we find amusing is pretty consistent. But this new group has a large percentage of people from different parts of the world and we all know humor is cultural, so I am keeping my lip zipped and zipped tight! And it’s not easy!
Step 4 – Conflict!
In one particular old group conflict was daily and loud and important to the group dynamic. Who you had conflict with and if you won battles was highly important. For goodness sake, establish yourself as strong and not weak lest your standing would be publicly ridiculed. Oh,the humanity! in this new group – group harmony is all important. People who are labeled as conflicting with the group have been ostracized in every way. Note to self – agree, agree and agree and keep smiling!
Step 5 – Keep learning!
This coming week I will be entering into yet another new group- Yikes! And I will be learning a whole new set of rules- Yikes!
Maybe my pink pants and Snickers bars will be welcomed—ahhhhh, happy days!