Cozy Corners

Have you ever attended one of those workshops meant for team building? If you are a salaried professional with over 2 years of experience chances are you have, perhaps more than once.

Attended a workshop (again!!) last week that initiated my thought about how much or how little the team building achieves beyond the usual.
Typically, these workshops place you into a group. Would like to believe some science that gets put in while the groups are being formed and of course “randomness” is a scientific explaination. I have observed over several such workshops that there is a fair amount of bonhomie and banter while the groups are new or while they are in the midst of “team-assignments”. The sad part however, is the fact that the moment there is a break, people like kids in kinder-garten run to the folks from their “own-gang”.
Now the question is whether such exercises really facilitate better understanding between the larger “Team” by building new bridges that are desired for organisational good or do they just help put some more concrete on to the old one?
Why is it that people resist venturing out and building one more bridge? Is it because the comfort the trodden path offers is too welcoming? Why do most such exercises end up as corridor pleasantries which too subside over time?
Here, I would like to introduce a concept of the New Kid on the Block (NKOTB), when confronted with a situation most people stand by the sidelines and watch other kids play waiting for that one acknowledging smile;hoping someone would come up and pull them in. There are few however who themselves walk across and announce themselves or by virtue of their talent/skill manage to attract the attention of the others (remember roller-skating,cycling or hitting the hoops to be the major wows when I was a child).
Getting back..the reason I feel people rush back to their “gangs” is that they do not want to go through the process of “establishing credentials” time and again. Once they’ve done so with a certain set of people they’d rather deal with those set of expectations rather than manage new ones. Guess these gangs are like those warm blankets (my female friends would get the analogy), their corner of the room where they are secure…their cozy corners.
And now here’s my take ….. The Theory of Comfort
As an individual ages and matures the social circle expands forming 4 distinct pockets (see image)
1)Family
2)Residence
3)Education and
4)Work
Within each of these pockets one gets to interact and associate with several others (degrees of separation taken into account) who then over a period of time settle at different levels of proximity (and these distances do change over time). The closest set in each of these pockets are what I call the “Cozy Corners”. When put into situations individuals do venture deeper (either on their own initiative or others-refer NKOTB concept above) into these pockets; sometimes to add members and sometimes to replace. The guiding factor being the permanancy of this situation.
To sum up, workshops and the team assignments within them represent short-term situations consequently while people do establish linkages with new people they quickly come back to the comfort of their cozy corners and stay there till a more permanent situation confronts them.

Food for thought for all the consultants and folks who specialise in the area of people dynamics.

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