Avoiding societal status games

1. Methods of Domination. Making Invisible Are certain people talking all the time? Do some people only have eye-contact with each other? Are your suggestions ignored or are others gazing through their calendars or looking at their phones while you are talking? Is someone repeating what you have just said, and proposing it as their own suggestion? Ridiculing Are your suggestions laughed at or made fun of? Are you treated like a child? Are people saying that they know your suggestions wouldn’t work “cause it’s already been tried ten years ago”? Withholding information Does somebody in the group have all the important information? Does the discussion begin without presentation of the same information to all the participants? Are people swapping information without sharing with the rest of the group? Double punishment “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. Is everything wrong no matter what you do? Are others saying you are not participating if you are quiet and that you are dominant if you are suggesting something? Blaming & Shaming Blaming happens through ridicule and double punishment. Blaming is what is done when people are judging you more for who you are than for what you do. This technique can be seen at a societal level in the way women who have been raped feel shame and blame ourselves for what has been done to us.

2. Eye-contact. Hierarchies and cliques are easily created by giving or not giving eye-contact. In order to avoid status-making, try to have eye-contact with everyone in the group. Not only with the most talkative ones.

3. Active Listening. The most common problem at meetings is that people don’t listen to each other. Active listening consists in really concentrating on listening to the person speaking, looking at the person and make an effort to show the same respect to all speakers. Without shaking your head, making faces, sighing or trying to interrupt.

One advice on how to listen better is to write down notes on what you want to say yourself on a piece of paper. That way you avoid thinking on your own arguments instead of listening to the person speaking.

4. Gender* Stacking / First Speaker : To break with the monotony of having the same persons doing all the talk-talk-talk (a few brains doing all the speaking-out-loud thinking in the group), it can be super rewarding and fun putting new speakers (regardless of gender) and women (and why not other oppressed groups?) first in the speaking order. That is, if the facilitator spots someone who hasn’t said anything before >> they get to be number one on the speakers list. With gender stacking speakers go >> woman-man-woman-man, and since women usually speak less, this means that they also go first in the speaking order.

* Gender is the social role we’re trained into from birth. Male if you have a penis. Female if you have a cunt. Intersexed persons – are randomly put into either category.

5. Small groups. Are more fun! And efficient! In every group there’s usually only 5-7 persons speaking. Splitting a large group into smaller groups is a good way of getting more interaction and ideas going. Then you go back to the large group and share!

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