Pattern #70


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Range of Tolerance

Credit: Graph by Martin Rausch inspired by Tracy Kunkler, Circle Forward / Sociocracy

Between preferred and unacceptable lies people’s range of tolerance. Working with it can move a group beyond the search for perfection into flexibility, initiative, and experimentation. Mindfully encouraging its expansion can foster learning, growth, good relations, and wisdom. So clarify and dynamically work with the range of tolerance — one’s own and others’.

  • What are you willing to work with here?
  • Can I step aside and let (or authorize) others to do something here that I’m not fully comfortable with but don’t have any really strong, legitimate objections to?
  • How can you frame your objections to this proposal in ways that serve the goal or purpose of our group? And, once it is framed in that way, how well can the rest of us address your objections to make the proposal better?
  • What can I do to expand my ability to tolerate things I’m not totally comfortable with – both for my own growth and sanity and to enable me to live and work better with other people?
  • How can we separate what we each want separately from what would most likely be really good for all of us if we could realize it together?
  • What do I do with things that really feel intolerable to me, but that others seem to really want to be or do or have? Are there different manifestations of this dynamic that I would ideally respond to differently?

Going Deeper …

This is an edited version of the video on this page.

[The edited transcript of this pattern’s video will be posted shortly.]

Video Introduction (7 min)


Examples and Resources