Cognitive fusion and Experiential avoidance

By Andrew on 14th December 2017 — 1 min read

When faced with stress, we tend to go one of two ways:
1. We lock in to our current approach, becoming rigid and inflexible, or
2. We do whatever we can to avoid whatever is causing the stress, if necessary at great cost to ourselves or others

When design collaboration becomes stressful, this plays out as:
1. People digging their heels in
2. People switching off

Neither result in a productive use of time – so how to avoid?

Careful planning.
  • design games / activities that encourage each person to contribute multiple ideas (even contradictory ideas)
  • ensure that some of the activities build on / combine inputs from multiple sources
  • work in teams on a collective endeavour
  • build trust / create a safe place by modelling the behaviour that you want to see in others
  • book a space that’s away from normal day-to-day work pressures (encourage phones and laptops to be set aside)

Starting with yourself

Ultimately the best place to begin, is with yourself.

If you can hold ideas with the right quality of interest (i.e. not too tightly or too loosely) – in such a way that welcomes other people to take it from you, to toss it around…

If you can usually find something interesting in other people’s ideas, even if this means looking very carefully and creatively…

This means resolutely refusing cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance… even when there is stress around.

It’s a tough battle, but it’s always worth it.

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