Facilitating Tension from Cathartic to Tragic!

Seven States of Tension

LeCoq´s Seven States of Tension  are used by dramatists to bring mind and body to bear on how different states of tension feel and look. I first came across these in a workshop run by Trestle Theatre Company and later whilst participating in Improvisation Training all of which is helpful in your practice as a facilitator when working as hard as you can to notice, understand and work with what people bring and what is created when they come together.  

The original Seven States of Tension defined by Lecoq start with Exhausted and finish with Rigor Mortis. I prefer the language of Morris from Catatonic through to Tragic which are more relatable to the everyday workplace and meeting space! People may arrive to meetings and workshops at state five, akin to anxieties about a re-organisation, security of their job, an unravelling crisis or unsustainable demand - the tension may be under the surface or on the table either way the facilitator will need to support the group to manage that state in order to create.  At facilitate this! we use facilitation tools like Graffitti Wall to help people express their tension at whatever level they are at, we use reviewing tools to be systematic about making sense of the starting point and learning and we build agreed ways of working to provide a safe environment and an anchor for the group to listen, to support open and honest dialogue and respect for the experience of others. 

So no matter who comes and what state they arrive in - our facilitation challenge is to be the state we wish to create, model it, use tools and interventions to support it and help the group work effectively together to use their tension to create something they are positively passionate about - but not per state of tension number 6!

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