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Business concepts illustrated with colorful wooden people - networking, organizational groups, or workgroups. - got cleavage? - Action Institute - Jean Campbell

Got Cleavage?

Business concepts illustrated with colorful wooden people - networking, organizational groups, or workgroups. - got cleavage? - Action Institute - Jean CampbellNo, not that kind of cleavage, silly. I’m talking about the split that can occur in a group, a family or an organization that can, at its worst, wreck havoc.  Conflict emerges, anxiety and defensiveness rise and before you know it, a sense of safety is lost and communication is at a standstill.  

People retreat to their respective corners and camps, are afraid to tell the truth and are overwhelmed and exhausted from the stress of it all.

The truth is that most of us don’t have the skills to resolve conflict, especially when it’s been going on for an extended period of time.  But how can we get out of the gridlock?  One word:  Sociometry.

At its very essence, sociometry is an action method that allows us to make the covert structure of an organization, family or group overt.  Every group has a covert structure:  the known connections are obvious to everyone; and if conflict is going to be resolved then by using the safe and progressive method of sociometry, the unknown connections can be revealed as well.  Through a series of more and more emotionally intimate exercises, we can identify those connections so that everyone in the room knows them (not just a clique of people) and find the ones they don’t, so that deeper connection can be built.  The more group members know about each other, the safer they feel.

The late psychodramatist Dorothy Baldwin Satten, PhD, TEP  used to say, “If you don’t reveal yourself, people will invent you, and they’ll get it wrong every time.”  In an effort to feel safe, human beings “invent” each other on a regular basis.  It’s in our DNA.  If we don’t understand what’s going on with someone or something, in an effort to lower our anxiety, we make up a story about why something is happening.

Rather than continuing down that path, socimetry can be use to reveal and resolve cleavages.  By allowing people to know each other’s humanity – the triumphs, the tragedies, the joys and the sorrows, the strengths and the growing edges, the jealousies and the appreciations, we can help any group of people to connect in ways that they wouldn’t ordinarily, and in so doing, the anxiety and cleavage can melt away to reveal a group of people who have more in common than not, and can join together towards a shared goal or mission moving forward.


Understanding and being able to facilitate sociometry takes a great deal of training and practice.  Action Institute of California offers twice-yearly Sociometry Weekends devoted to learning a multitude of sociometric exercises to help you better understand the covert structure of a group, and be able to work with it to build safety, lower anxiety, increase transparency and intimacy, resulting in greater cohesion and connection for all.  For more information, visit

In addition, we provide team building, conflict resolution and staff training workshops in business, clinical and medical settings that are tailored to the needs of your organization.  Contact at or at 310-909-9780, or visit our website at