The work Matter–Mind Studio does is centered on ways of working with people. We learn from, iterate on, and refine the way we do that. That growth is at the core of our practice as a research collective.
The way we do our work—thinking, asking, facilitating, making with people—is adapted to our style of working from choreographers, healers, educators, community organizers, practitioners on leadership development, meditation teachers, researchers in the healthcare field and designers we admire. Of the folks we’ve learned from, individuals who self-identify as Black, Brown, and/or People of Color and femme are represented. This practice of representing individual people and centuries old practices is something we continue to work at every day. It’s an important ethic for us to make space for and make visible exactly whose wisdom we choose to learn from. We thank each of these individuals.
What matters most when it comes to working with participants of our work?
Because many of the emotion-centered tools involve us facilitating conversations, how those tools are carried out by an individual is as important as what those tools are. Here’s some of what we believe in:
Always put people before the work — See participants and collaborators as complex individuals rather than an information source. That means appreciating they have contradictions in their beliefs, they’re the experts of their experience, and must be treated as such. It means putting your beliefs and ego in the background. That’s in terms of your attitude, what you do, and what and how much you say.
Show up with your true self — There’s no one standard style for our practice as a collective; when you care enough, work is personal. That means your sincerity is the magic. People can easily sense how comfortable, honest, transparent, and open you and your team are. That affects how much you’re trusted.
Allow for ambiguities — Tools and methodologies should always be adapted to specific contexts not the other way around. Be alert to sense if an exercise isn’t working for someone and be ready to improvise changes in your plan.
Be aware of who you are in the room — There’s no such thing as being ‘neutral’ or ‘objective.’ Establish the ability to sense how each individual you’re working with is reading you and how your presence affects them. Are you in a position of power? How are you carrying out or counteracting that in your body language, the configuration of the room and your words? Are you seen as a friend, a colleague, a threat, a teacher, their boss’s buddy, a mentor, or a stranger? And the big question, ‘Should you be there in the first place?’ Be reflexive.
*This is an excerpt collaged from articles we’ve published about our work.
Breaking Up Assumptions about How Emotions Work, Sep 2018 by Myriam Diatta
Cultural Concepts: Making and Unmaking Consumer Culture, Jun 2017 by Colleen Doyle
Why the analog still matters, Sep 2016 by Lillian Tong