Teams ‘swim’ in the medium of mutual perception. One cannot escape the perception of others and one cannot not perceive others. Everything has meaning, no matter whether one speaks or not, whether one is interfering or leaving it be, no matter what facial expression one shows, with which tone of voice one speaks, what physical tension one has, to name just a few. In groups, this mutual perception of all members is the basic interaction level. This is because one can see that one is seen (or not). One can hide one’s thoughts, but one cannot hide how it expresses itself in body language when one does not address something. And the other does not have to consciously reflect about the fact that someone does not address something. But he will perceive it subtly and will usually react to it unconsciously, maybe with insecurity and caution. This caution is then possibly paired with fantasies: “I believe he does not like me and has no faith in what I do!”. Such a fantasy in turn influences the behaviour to which the other reacts. In this way, very stable patterns quickly form in groups. These perception procedures, by the way, also occur on the telephone or in video conferencing. All pattern-forming interactions – confirming and sanctioning – rest on these reciprocal perception processes.
This is decisive for the understanding and changing of interaction patterns, because limiting observation to linguistic communication represents a completely inappropriate reduction to the phenomenon of ‘group’. In the management of teams, just as in consultancy, one must understand these processes, otherwise one loses essential knowledge and action opportunities.