Integral Discussion – What Is It? How It Works. Why It Works
I am currently preparing to run live online workshops, called “integral discussions,” with small groups of artists and producers.
The aim of these workshops is to bring artists and producers together to network and consult in a live, more intimate format.
The workshops will be guided by some basic rules that will allow a positive and constructive atmosphere to develop.
If you want to be on the list of artists and producers to get contacted when I start running these workshops, simply fill out your details in the below form, and you’ll be added.
Also, if you have any questions you want answered in relation to progressing with your music in any way, feel free to add those too, as they could base many of the workshops we’ll be running.
What Is the Integral Discussion?
The integral discussion is a key tool in connecting people.
It aims to shift people’s way of thinking from individualistic to collective. Why? It’s because a lot of studies have shown how collective approaches to problem solving and goal accomplishing are much more effective than individualistic approaches. In short, by working on developing a collective approach, the integral discussion breeds new ideas, experiences and tools that are “locked away” from people approaching their problems and goals in an individualistic way.
At first the integral discussion seems like just another conversation among a group of people over an issue that the group is dealing with. But the way in which the discussion unfolds comes from a spirit of connection, which powerfully influences the discussion’s process and outcome. People who have participated in well run integral discussions will have been introduced to unique discoveries that unfold during its processing. As the relations among participants change, new, positive sensations of togetherness arise. Such an atmosphere has been shown to improve decision making, productivity, creativity and networking.
Requirements for an Integral Discussion
- A group of at least 5 people and no more than 15 people. The optimal amount is 10
- A topic of discussion relevant to all participants
- Questions for discussion that aim to take the participants through practical and specific points
- An experienced host, whose role is to guide the discussion in a way that will let the participants create a positive and supportive atmosphere, who will prevent the participants from straying from the topic of discussion or the timeframe allotted to the discussion, and who will help the participants arrive at a concrete conclusion at the end of the discussion
- A person to document the views and help form a common view.
Rules of the Integral Discussion
1. Equality – all participants are equally important
Just like in any track, all parts are equally important. For example, you can’t have a successful track if your drums play out of sync with the rest of the instruments. So it is in the integral discussion: no one holds more or less importance; everyone is equal, and thus every single person is very important.
Participants thus also strive to make decisions unanimously, out of mutual understanding and connection. This point forms at the end of the discussion, when the personal opinion of each participant joins into a common view.
2. Focus – discuss only one topic per round
Like the way a song you’re playing in starts, and you’re focused completely on the song as if nothing else exists. Likewise, in the integral discussion, everyone talks about a pre-chosen topic, is attentive to the questions of the host and sticks to the topic.
3. Synergy – every participant expresses their opinion
Going back to the song mix example, if you prepare a track, and then someone mutes two parts in that track, the bass and the drums, then you’ve got a problem, and you can’t continue till there’s synergy in the mix. Likewise, in the integral discussion, there can never be a situation where one or more participants do not express their opinion.
In this way, everyone adds to the joint decision. When all participants express their views and unite them together, the participants become “enhanced.” They then start better understanding and listening to not only others, but also themselves. A silent person seemingly leaves out a necessary element from the track that all participants are mixing together.
To help achieve this, the participants speak one at a time in a way where each participant is followed by the next person. If the discussion is conducted physically, then the participants should ideally sit around in a circle, and pass the speaking privilege over to the person on their right-hand side each time. If the discussion is conducted online, then a pre-chosen order of speakers should be made clear to everyone, and they should go through one-by-one through this order. Therefore, each participant knows when it is their turn to speak, and everyone is given an equal opportunity to express their view on the topic.
4. Acceptance – no arguments, criticism or judgmental statements
Great songs function as single units, where all players and parts mutually complement and enhance each other. Likewise, in the integral discussion, views of all participants are fully accepted, and each participant’s view is added to a single, integral view.
There are no arguments. There are no right or wrong views. All opinions are legitimate.
Without disparaging the view of any of the participants, each one complements the others and acquires new perspectives on the problem by examining it through the eyes of all participants.
Similarly, participants should try and overcome disagreements by looking at the problem through everyone’s eyes. Each participant learns to give way to others and enjoys when common growth and progress are achieved.
5. Flow – listen to the others in the discussion as if it’s you speaking
Great bands, crews and producer-artist duos are ones where each member intuitively feels all the members. They have a heightened sensitivity toward each other. When they start playing, they enter a state of flow in all their give-and-take motions running at every moment during a song or jam. By working to achieve this heightened sensitivity to each other outside the musical field, using the integral discussion, it is expected that the enhanced connection will also improve the connection within the musical landscape.
In order to aid the achievement of this heightened state of sensitivity and communication, participants listen to each other during the discussion. They speak on their turn without interrupting each other’s words. Each participant listens attentively to the person whose turn it is to speak and tries to feel, understand, and merge with the view of that person. This is done toward everyone.
A tool for helping achieve this is the “speaking object.” That is, the person who speaks holds some kind of object, which can be anything small that is available at hand, like a pen or a folded piece of paper. It psychologically helps when everyone can see that the person who holds this object now has the right to speak, and everyone should listen to what he or she is saying.
In so doing, personal conversation among only a few of the participants also has no place in the integral discussion. While running this format, personal discussions or asking each other questions destroy the integral nature of the discussion. They thus need to be avoided. Every participant needs to speak without relating to anyone specifically, but seemingly turn to the center of the circle.
The discussion participants thus set before themselves a goal: to create a common field of support, confidence, warmth and care, like a properly functioning family.
When listening to the speaker, each participant identifies with him or her emotionally and creates the most comfortable and convenient atmosphere for the person speaking. Top priority is given to creating an air of unity, because only then comes the decision that emerges out of the togetherness.
Why the Integral Discussion Works
We live in a world where we want others to see things the way we do. Although we’re talking about improving the professional life of artists, producers and musicians, we can see it in every realm of life: sports, business, entertainment, politics, education, family, and so on. The integral discussion lets us acquire a different taste, where we can express an opinion freely and know that it will be regarded and taken seriously. When fellow artists, producers, executives, employees, family members, and other people become filled with this special atmosphere, they feel that it holds a unique force and cannot return to their old conduct.