So what is Touchy Feely?
Developed in the late 1940's by Kurt Lewin (referred to as the founder of modern social psychology) when he was Director of MIT’s Research Center for Group Dynamics, Touchy Feely uses the "T-Group" (training group) learning methodology to allow students to experience and develop foundational self-awareness, emotional intelligence, interpersonal, and other skills and competencies key to leaders in today's world. T-group was further developed at NTL National Training Laboratories and by Organizational Behavior faculty at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, leading to the creation of the class "Touchy Feely," which is the most popular elective course for 45 years running at Stanford Graduate School of Business and is taken roughly by 90% of the Stanford MBA class every year.
How the Class Works
In a class, there are typically 12 students, with 2 trained facilitators. There is no agenda, structure, or fabricated role plays. T-Group participants practice and develop core skills and behaviors through real-time interaction and dynamics. Participants learn about diversity, conflict, and influence by engaging with each others’ differences in power, status, and privilege. Facilitators help the group to establish the safety and connection that are needed for risk taking, self disclosure, feedback exchange and conversations across differences, all in service of the participant and the group’s learning goals.
Some Lessons Learned
- Without empathy, no conflict can get resolved. With sufficient empathy, any conflict can get resolved.
- Empathy CAN be learned, which allows us to be more sensitive to others’ vulnerability.
- Being overly cautious prevents us from expressing our vulnerability more fully, making it harder for others to empathize with us DURING conflict.
- Intimacy requires deep trust & safety, which are easier to achieve when issues of status and power are acknowledged.
- When I acknowledge my privilege, you’re more likely to acknowledge my individuality.
- We can’t avoid mistakes. We can make smaller mistakes & recover from them faster, but the key is repairing when we inevitably screw up.
- Feedback often is ineffective because we give it from a place of MY IGNORANCE by assuming others' feelings and motives. We can deliver feedback by giving it from a place of MY EXPERTISE by sharing MY feelings, motives, and reactions. Doing so reduces the likelihood of triggering defensiveness in others.
- Emotions and Feelings are Data. Ignoring them sharply diminishes one's ability to communicate, cooperate, and make decisions.
- Influence with others BUILDS when I ALLOW myself to be influenced by others.
How are the Character Strengths developed?