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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Vol. 70, Number 7 (May 1969)

Selk, Jean
"the giftie gie [sic] us",   pp. [10]-11


Page 11


worker po'nders whether she's "coming through" to
the people she deals with. The PTA president has
nagging suspicions he's doing something wrong-a
few members are expressing all the opinions, mak-
ing all the decisions.
   A promising approach to the problem is gain-
 ing a number of disciples across the country, from
 psychologists who specialize in human behavior to
 tough-minded industrial plant managers. The ap-
 proach is called sensitivity training and, although
 it has a 20-year history, only in recent years has it
 been put into widespread practice in a variety of
 situations_
   David Bradford, assistant professor of psychology
 here at the University, has extensive experience
 with sensitivity training with both on- and off-cam-
 pus groups. He has led sensitivity (or, as they are
 more commonly called, T-for training) groups for
 such organizations as Procter and Gamble, the U.S.
 Internal Revenue Service and the Christian Broth-
 ers teaching order.
   "T-Group gets people to understand how they
 behave and how this behavior affects other people,"
 Prof. Bradford says. "We can't improve our be-
 havior unless we know how it influences those
 around us.
   "Normally, though, we can't find that out read-
 ily," he continues, "because in our culture our
 friends simply don't tell us what they think of us.
   "A fellow has to make a speech, for instance.
 Afterwards he knows he didn't do very well and he
 makes the comment, 'Boy, I really messed up that
 one'. But we'll all say something like 'Nonsense.
-You-,dd very w1ch.'"
   So, in order to get a more objective measure of
 ourselves, we buy the books or fill-in the instant
 analysis quizzes in the paper, or attend lectures. "Or
 we can become a member of a small group-which
 a T-Group is-and see what happens," says Brad-
 ford. "When we do this the learning comes from
 within the group instead of from an outside source.
 The pointers we get are tailored to us.
   "And the results can be quite different," Brad-
 ford continues. "A lecturer might list the qualities
 of a democratic leader and we might say to our-
 selves, 'Yes, I meet all those requirements.' But
 when we get into a T-Group we learn that other
 members of the group think of us as being anything
 but democratic."
   A typical T-Group has 12 to 14 participants and
 one or two staff member trainers. Meetings might
 be held weekly, but more frequent sessions usually
 are regarded as more productive. These may range
 from an entire weekend-such as the Friday eve-
 ning to Sunday evening sessions which have been
 held for student groups on the campus several
 times in the last year-to week-long conferences.
 Such conferences, or laboratories, are the kind
 most frequently arranged for business and indus-
 May, 1969
trial executives and for professionals such as teach-
ers, social workers and clergymen. In addition to
the T-Groups, which meet in two-hour sessions
two or three times a day, participants in week-long
conferences also attend lectures and participate in
other activities.
  How does a T-Group get started? And what hap-
pens along the way?
  "When I'm acting as trainer for a T-Group," Prof.
Bradford says, "I usually start out by telling mem-
bers of the group that I will not be acting as their
leader, that I have no agenda, no task for-the group
to -undertake -and that I will not be conducting- a
meeting in traditional fashion nor calling on mem-
bers.
  "I tell them that my goal is to help members of
the group feel trust in each other and to help
them learn. They will not learn from me-I don't
have the answers-but from each other.
  "Groups may start out in various ways. Some-
times the members begin by introducing them-
selves. They may even pick a specific topic to dis-
cuss, such as should the United States withdraw
from Vietnam. Usually these topics are abandoned
as members of the group begin having a feeling for
others in the group. Then the discussion settles
down to what is happening here and now-within
the group.
  "We may get a comment like this: 'Look, it seems
to me this has turned into a conversation among
five people. Why is it that the rest of you aren't
saying anything?' And someone may reply, 'Well,
franlry,-Ws Jane. I'm afraid of her. Theblast time
I said something, she really tore into me.' Jane may
protest, others may agree or disagree and the group
moves on from there."
  A T-Group bears no relationship to the psychi-
atrist's couch, Prof. Bradford says. Neither is it a
confessional, prompting people into revealing their
personal history and problems. It doesn't probe into
what makes people tick, only into how they tick
in the eyes of their associates.
  When he is asked by a business or industry to
work with their managers or executives, Prof. Brad-
ford may use a somewhat different approach.
  "Often I ask them to hold one of their regular
staff meetings, pick out a problem and solve it,"
he explains. "Afterwards we sit around and dis-
cuss the meeting. I won't say you did this right or
wrong, but I may raise some questions such as,
'Did everyone feel free to bring up any issues he
thought were pertinent?' They may start out by
insisting they did feel free, but later on one or
more members of the group may admit they were
reluctant for some reason to be as free and open
as they'd like. Usually, it was a fear that another
member of the group would be critical or cut them
off."                          (continued on p. 24)
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