I recently wrote on the importance of being part of group and had some mixed reactions. My main point at the end was that groups are natural to humans. We thrive in groups and it is natural to form them for many different reasons. I said that we should join a group to learn and participate in the give and take of it all. And that this is what helps the world go round…
Some people agreed and some disagreed which is to be expected. What I did expect is how they agreed and disagreed and for what reasons.
Here are some things said for both sides….
Groups are great because they give one a sense of belonging, it gives people a sense of importance, they are used as a support system, gives a place where people won’t be judged…
Groups are bad because they are exclusive, they make others feel inferior, they push people out, it’s hard to find a group you fit into, it’s hard to find a healthy group…
I have the urge to answer each of those one by one, but I feel that would be missing the point. Because we all know, when it comes down to it, groups can be good or bad depending on the situation. Let’s focus on something else…
This is one of the main reasons we both like and dislike groups. Why groups can be the most wonderful or most awful things in the world.
Part of the requirement for being in any group is a certain level of vulnerability. And one might say an ever increasing level of vulnerability based on your level of deepening involvement.
Groups require a certain level of intimacy. You know things about the other members of your group that others don’t know. You know things about these other people that you can use to benefit them or to harm them.
Take gossip for example.
You can learn of something about a certain member of a group and choose to harm them by spreading gossip. Many of us have played the telephone game where one person starts off with a sentence and whispers it into the person’s ear next to them. By the time it goes around the circle it gets twisted and distorted and often causes a lot of harm along the way.
Now take that same something you learn about that person and use it to help them. One of the best things you can do is to refer them to someone you might know that has been in similar circumstances or has the ability to help. This is why networking is such a powerful force for good. Instead of harming that person through gossip you help them by referring them to someone that can help. What a joy it is to be in a group then!
I have more to say, but I will stop right here. I have a feeling the comments will help expound on the subject and I would rather have you think about this deeper than have me expound on it further.
My final point is to say consider the risks and rewards and the level of vulnerability you will have when you are thinking about joining or participating in any group. Things could go bad or they could be much better than you ever expected!