Centralizing and Opening internal communication

In a cooperative I know, it was created a communication group .

This communication group is centralizing most of all external and general internal communication, with consent of the coop board.

Currently, there is an online group with mailing-list where everyone has access to - created prior to the election of the cooperative board, without explicit consent of all the members - and after some sharings of individuals in the mailing list the communication group decided, with approval from the elected board, to send an email restricting the usage of this list to the communication group and to the general assembly representatives.

The argument for creating the mailing-list was allowing free-flow of communication/information between members, without explicit restrictions.
The argument the communication group used for centralizing was that this was needed to guarantee that people give the necessary attention to the emails coming in.

Personally, I can understand both strategies, and prefer the open one in most cases.
Read my understanding and arrguments below, and please share your voice on this.

1 - Centralization of communication - How do I connect with it ?

I can connect with the option of the communication group within my personal story. For all matters, when I enter some groups/mailing-lists and get what I can say “a lot” of emails, I may feel anxiety for having little time and wanting to participate. By seeing a lot of emails unread in my inbox and not managing to go through them all, I may well suspend my action because I couldn’t read it all and be afraid of saying something that was already written or made to absurd. I get frustrated if I don’t clarify clearly why I belong to the group and if I have a weak connection with the group, then there is a very high probability of me reducing my participation and eventually step away.

2 - Open communication - everyone in a group is welcomed to reach out for the whole group.

I believe that allowing members to share what they want, and help them improve their communication when someone finds it ineffective has an empowering effect and leverages group spirit/energy. And if there is some communication that might affect someone, it is also important to give room for that other person to respond, and to create a culture of empathic and non-violent communication.
If we manage to create this culture of empathic communication - then any emotion shall be given the right listening and there shall not be a need to filter communication. Even so, it is relevant to have moderators/keepers - people who hold the space - that keep an eye on every communications and looks forward to hold and care for this culture of compassion.

So …
Why do I usually prefer an open communication system over a centralized one?

One thing I’ve learned about myself and the way I participate in groups is that what I feel, related to something that happens in the group, and the way I react to it, most of the time can be tracked to some situation in my past, and that my persistence in the group actually informs me about how I may want to prioritize my actions and my current needs in the present. So, usually, in the groups I belong too, if I feel anxious about too many emails and wanting to read them all, it usually means that I should stop and clarify if I really need to do that, and why I might want to do it. Usually, from my personal history - it’s about fear - fear of “losing the train”. * (see note in the end)

To cope with this I am learning to just stop and breath (Anapana Meditation), and use some other forms of meditation (Even a slight variation of Loving-Kindness Meditation helps too - working on self-compassion and compassion towards other people), and I must confess it’s getting some effectiveness.

After that, I usually look into the present moment and think what are the commitments I am bond to, and what are the tasks I want to put myself into, and then its mostly about prioritizing and getting things done, one by one. And if it happens to have moments of blockage or anxiety, well…I’m still learning how to stop a bit and accept reality as it is.

So, keeping the communication open, actually gives me a choice and opportunity to look into my anxieties and deal with it. It has the advantage that I can choose when is the right moment to participate or not. Having access to all information people share, let’s us know more of each other, and have access to more opportunities of interaction and connection.

In a centralized communication system, where whenever people want to participate need to do it through a “filter”- the communication group - I feel afraid that my voice does not have room to be heard and to be missing an opportunity for collective evolution and care.

I believe that centralizing is not a solution for the issue “people getting to many emails find it harder to filter information by themselves”, and at same time, think that everyone in an open online group must be there voluntarily.

I think that the most effective way - in the specific context and moment of the coop - to address this would be to have two different communication channels -> one for sharing between members (the existing mailing list) and other for formal communication from the board (no group is actually needed for this - board has specific email addresses). This way, people can create their own mail filters and balance the way they want to read - they can have a folder for coop-members, and get the board mails directly in their inbox.

In the long term, I actually see this more out of email and more into a forum based interaction system, like this one :-). If people want email, they can configure to get email. If they don’t - no need to force them to that.

What do you know about this subject?
From your experience and knowledge?
Please share as a reply to this post.

  • Note: I am aware this mostly thanks to my participation in João Sem Medo Community of Evolutionary Entrepreneurs (http://www.joaosemmedo.org), where I have had to chance to observe and participate in different ways. The only constraint there I would say is that all content should be somewhat related to what João Sem Medo looks forward to cover - its domains of human development, participative leadership and entrepreneurship as a method.