The Co-Intelligence Field of Human Relationships

Healthy human interactions among individuals in intimate and social settings of all kinds

Central inquiry: What makes for fruitful, satisfying human interactions in relationships, groups and communities?

Forms of co-intelligence particularly useful in this field (see Five Dimensions of Co-Intelligence): The more collaborative intelligence people exercise, the healthier their interactions will be.

Sample projects in this field: Individually and collectively we can: Increase the quantity and quality of dialogue -- shared exploration towards greater understanding, connection and potential. Deepen respect for individual and group uniqueness. Develop empathy for each other's needs, feelings, experiences and perspectives. Learn how to use diversity creatively. Fathom the complexities of group and relational dynamics, and increase our capacity to perceive and deal with them. Develop shared leadership and the capacity to generate higher forms of consensus -- not from compromise, but from deeper shared understanding.

Comments: People can most readily see, understand and apply co-intelligence in this field, where they directly experience the quality of face-to-face interaction. This field is very developed: Much is known about the collaborative dynamics of families, partnerships, teams, tribes and other small groups. But long-term relationship-based communities (and even families) have been undermined by encroachment from the state,* the cult of individualism,** corporate power and market economics. We need new relationship-based social forms appropriate to our new situation. Much of the so-called "community movement" is an effort to create these new forms. Collectively, we are well equipped with knowledge and tools to proceed with this project, but many of us are held back by an industrial culture that leaves us with little time for community-building, makes it hard to sustain commitments, and isolates us as consumers in our separate cocoons. Liberating ourselves from these patterns into real dialogue and community is one of our most important tasks, as these (dialogue and community) are fundamental building blocks of a co-intelligent society.


* Sometimes this is as subtle as the fact the relationship of citizens to their governments (through taxes, police, regulations, welfare, etc.) is more substantive than their relationship to their neighbors. Or it can be as blatant as New York city planners wiping out whole communities for the building of highways (which, in turn, help remove people from their communities) -- or a Canadian government seeding free televisions into indigenous communities to undermine their traditions, thereby reducing natives' resistance to the mining of their land.

** Individuality -- human uniqueness -- is something positive and important. However, like any good thing, it can be taken to dysfunctional extremes. No culture can persist which believes that individuality is the ultimate social reality -- that all values boil down to benefits for individuals. Such a cult of individualism is as dangerous as its opposite -- the cult of collectivism -- that we've seen practiced by state communism. We need balance -- and perhaps even more importantly, synergy -- bet ween the individual and the collective dimensions of life.