The Art of Not Knowing

The Art of Not Knowing

In this talk, Marian Timmermans combines models from Tavistock and Transactional Analysis in dealing with the unknown when working with groups.

Most people who have worked with groups – in a role as leader, consultant, teacher, coach – recognise this experience: tension rises, you notice non-verbal communication between group members, and you start to feel ‘this is getting out of my hands’. In that moment of not knowing, personal defence strategies may start to work. As a professional, you are aware of the fact that this behaviour only brings you to places you have already been and will likely inhibit participants (and yourself) from learning, yet you find it difficult to do something different to what you usually do since your personal reaction is embedded in cultural expectations of the role that you are in. Those expectations are present in the participants in the group and in yourself. From this overdrive position, however, you can only find answers that have already been found before.

A leader, consultant, trainer or (team)coach who is able to stay in the here-and-now and can endure the discomfort and uncertainty of the moment may give another example to participants: that of the art of now knowing. In our current ever-changing world, a world that seems to have become a ‘liminal space’, it is a challenge for professionals to develop a capacity to stay with the unknown, even in an environment that strongly invites them to act as if they do have an answer.

Recording of the talk

Speaker’s bio

Marian Timmermans MA, PTSTA studied medieval history and had a career in education and local government. She was a management consultant, mainly working for not-for-profit organisations. She was co-owner of the Dutch TA-academie and is now a self-employed (executive) coach and process facilitator. Marian has specialised in Organisational Transactional Analysis (TA), which she teaches in the Netherlands and the UK (leading to an MSc certification TA-academie/The Berne Institute/Middlesex University). She is a supervisor to TA students from various countries.

In her work, she combines the depth of ‘connecting with the undertow’ with the easy language of TA to enhance clients’ understanding and options for change. Marian published in Dutch on ‘leadership with depth’ and ‘the art of not knowing’ and recently wrote an article in the Transactional Analysis Journal on ‘The importance of an organisational perspective in dealing with workplace bullying’ (TAJ 2020, vol 50, no 4).

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