Centrality, Facilitation & Eldership

Centrality means you have the Central Position within a group, at a given moment. Primarily this relates to the person who is holding the attention of the group, either by speaking or performing of some sort. It is important to develop ever-increasing awareness of Centrality – whether it is assigned to you or others. Increased awareness of your relationship with this position, helps move towards more equity to encourage a relationship to power that is shared.

“Some people are born great, some become great, and some have greatness thrust upon them” 

This historic maxim can be applied to the experience of Centrality:

  • BORN INTO CENTRALITY: People with charisma and/or rank (youth/beauty/knowledge/power/prestige etc.) are assigned this centrality ( e.g. when an attractive person walks in the room and all eyes head in that direction and they are approached and engaged with)
  • BECOME CENTRALITY: People who develop the ability to access Centrality, either by taking on a prestigious role or developing a strong presence, loud voice, controlling disposition.
  • HAVE CENTRALITY THRUST UPON THEM: People who unwittingly become famous, or have a surprise birthday party sprung on them.

Whatever the case, awareness can avoid amplifying power differentials which keep some people from accessing their right to express, contribute and be valued in a group setting.

“The more rank you have the less awareness” 

Dealing with centrality can be complex, as those who are in that role, often do not realise it is happening, or do not have an awareness that the power associated with centrality, also carries responsibilities. We can use our centrality to make ourselves and our “club” more secure in their exclusive access to privilege. Or we can use our centrality to help move towards a more equitable, fairer world, in which power differentials are being incrementally reduced.

Facilitation and Eldership: In these times of specialisation, many feel incompetent to pick up these roles. However, we are all called upon to develop a willingness to take the risk of making an intervention that can make a difference to the group dynamics. A non-judgmental and invitational approach can be helpful.

Facilitation usually requires consent, so it can be helpful to ask whether it is possible to make a suggestion that might ease the situation. A facilitation intervention is intended to help progress a conflict, towards some measure of (temporary) resolution. The aim of the intervention, is to deepen the awareness in the field, or to create a buffer that shifts the conflict from escalating to de-escalating. For example: Two people are arguing, and someone says, “I notice your voices are raised and I wonder if you would be willing to step back for a moment and take a breath, and tune into your body sensations”. This can be an outsider, or one of the people who is experiencing conflict. Of course, this will only be effective if the parties have enough spaciousness to be willing to move into an awareness-based phase.

Eldership can also come forward from both within the conflicting parties or outside. It is a voice which is informed by a vision for a better world. It emerges from an assemblage point that seeks to value all voices in the context of a thriving community, seeking to move forward in respect of diverse views, while knowing that unresolved conflict can seriously undermine the lifeforce of a community.