Contexts shape what happens. The same actions in different contexts create different outcomes and have different meanings. En- vironments, mindsets, values, expectations, situational dynamics, power relations, systemic forces, needs, culture… all these matter. So pay attention to context in whatever is explored, whatever is set up and whatever is done.
Related: 27 Full Spectrum Information, 30 Grounding in Fundamental Needs, 44 Power of Listening, 52 Rich Feedback Dynamics, 60 Systems Thinking, 64 Using Diversity and Disturbance Creatively, 69 Wise Use of Uncertainty
Going deeper …
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Context is often not acknowledged as important. Our attention goes to the actors or entities in the scene and the actions happening between them. We don’t pay much attention necessarily to the background.
For one of the most obvious examples of context shaping what happens, consider a person who is doing a performance that has no audience – or if they have an audience, whether that audience is being supportive or antagonistic. In every case, their performance will be different.
Context awareness is particularly important because the systems we live in are contexts for everything that is going on, everything we’re doing, everything we are thinking, everything we believe and think is real.
How we’ve grown up in this environment and the stories that we tell ourselves, how everybody else around us is thinking and responding, all this is shaping us in very powerful ways. Context is almost like a form of leadership.
The same actions in different contexts create different outcomes and have different meanings. You can dress in a business suit and go into an office and nobody notices. If you dress in a business suit and go to a hippy rock concert you are going to really stand out and people are going to think you are strange.
There are cultures where it’s considered natural for people to stand very close when talking with each other, whereas in other cultures they try to maintain some distance. There’s a book I read once that talked about diplomatic meetings where the diplomats have their relaxing cocktail hour talking to each other and they are moving around the room because person A is backing away to get person B further away and person B is moving forward to get closer to Person A. This strange cultural difference is dictating the motions of the people in the room without them even being aware of how and why it’s happening.