Created By: Web Server on 04/14/1997 at 04:20 AM
| Starting An Open Men's Group|
Category: Emotional Discharge
Learning how to make warm, friendly safety quickly with other men is a key ability for each of us.
This is exactly what is needed to have an open men's group work well. If you know anyone who
can do this, it's faster to spend a little time around them before you launch off on your own. Failing
that, it doesn't take too many years to figure it out on your own resources. Friends will forgive
your mistakes in stumbling about, till you finally allow them the time and patience to figure it out.
The easiest way that I have found is to simply talk and listen with your friends with out interruption.
When you have two men who like doing this with you, it's time to put one night a week aside to
having an open men's group at your home. You will find other things to do as a listener but this is a
good place to start.
If nobody comes for the first few months then nothing else is planned and you can rest. Every man
I have ever met has been attempting to figure out how he can get a little more rest in his life. At least
by the time that you have figured out how to invite other men, you may have transformed your life
by your weekly resting. If you can't think of any man to invite, it's time to make some male friends.
Once you have done that you can ask them.
When guys start coming to your group, the next challenge is in setting the tone of the group. I
recommend that a useful tone is one of safety and friendship, liking each other (exactly as you are)
with everyone getting a turn to talk without interruption. The next is a good bunch of working
I like the following five agreements.
1 Complete confidentiality of all personal matters. If you want to talk about something outside
the group either change the detail so that no-one can figure out who it was taken from or ask
2 Full respect for choice. We just don't put anything on any man if he doesn't want it. We don't
interrupt his turn unless he makes it plain he wants you in there with him.
3 Protect support relationships by not trying to add anything that messes it up. You get to figure
out what that is. (I have seen more than a few men's groups messed up by trying to add living
together business or other social relationships. Starting sex with another's wife etc.) If you have
friends before support work extra responsibility is needed to keep support work as an equal swap
that does not confuse the rest of the friendship.
4 Defend and privately correct anyone who you see is taking responsibility for others, taking initiative,
organizing or leading. Give criticism only to them personally (or their best supporter).
Never gossip, run down or attack them in front of anyone else.
5 Don't take alcohol, drugs or smoke before or during the group. These substances numb
emotions and reduce the ability to participate fully in the group. Things develop much faster
when everyone is clear headed.
The structure I like is to give everyone an equal turn to talk without interruptions after the
introductions. If the friendliest guy is given the support of the rest of the group to learn how to
lead. The group will develop safety quickly. Once the skill of leading by making safety is
learned, it can and needs to be passed on to others.
If these ideas don't suit, please follow your hunch in setting up your own group at your house
your way. If we have this as our starting place everything else that is needed can get figured
out sooner or later. I'd love to hear how it goes.
Paul Whyte, Secretary, Sydney Men's Network; (02) 9879-4979
PO Box 2064 Boronia Park NSW 2111; E-mail paul*whyte@gel*works.com.au
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