For the most part, I am content with my experiences with Landmark Education. The information they offer is interesting and has its place, some of the coaches and unpaid staff are friendly and professional, and many of the participants are interesting, open and arrive with compelling stories. Up until two weeks ago I would have passively recommend the Landmark forum to most people. The only group I wouldn’t have recommended it to are those individuals who have (or are) borderline personality disorders or those who have some psychological issue because the unpaid staff isn’t qualified to handle the acute breakdowns that the intensive stress that participating in the forum places on a person.
I have changed my mind on that. I would only suggest Landmark Eduction to the same individuals but only after they read-up on the organization and watched France 3 documentary: “Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus” along with some of the reports / descriptions available on the site.
The video is captivating! The techniques of the French leader are a little more aggressive than those that I witnessed, but the essence of the experience remains identical; mind you, I mentioned that I had a blood sugar issue and needed to eat frequently so I was allowed to get-up and leave whenever I wanted and I didn’t spend a lot of time sharing, listening instead and offering my opinion of the story that was being told.
My experience with the organization has soured considerably since my forum weekend. I previously described the unpaid workers as “distant, guarded and lacked something that those who suggested I would gain from attending possess in abundance – authentic fearlessness” and this opinion hasn’t changed much. Almost everyone I have talked to sounds like they are using a script – I did mention this to one of them and was told that I was being obnoxious; a fact that I do not dismiss.
They attempt to sell constantly and have a very misleading way of articulating what they mean by “enrollment conversations”. Most of the participants, when told to go out and have enrollment conversations have them about enrolling other people in the Landmark forum. My enrollment conversations where about enrolling others in the possibility that I created for myself – of being authentic, creating a strong brand and helping people through my coaching activities. Less than 5 people at the forum and follow-up seminar regarded what I was doing in anyway at all, the rest simply wanted to know who I had enrolled in the forum and why I was so resistant to sharing it with others.
I did have an offline conversation with the seminar leader about this and she informed me that another male had gotten the same impressing from her (that enrollment conversations are about getting people to come to the forum) and that she was sorry that we had been given the impression. I thanked her for clearing it up, but she was on message about who are you sharing the Landmark forum with for the next special event the next time she was in front of the group.
Other than the some of the processes that they teach, the key thing I take from Landmark is their effective use of psychology to control the participants. The environmental manipulation is only a part of it – they control breaks, treat the people like children (including the unpaid staff) and create a contrived order in the room. But how they engage the people to create fear, a sense of ostracization, and a group think mentality is alarming in its aggression and effectiveness.
Admittedly, I was impacted by some of the techniques. I felt them happening but didn’t take the time to interrupt the process to ask and answer the question “so what?” While I never found myself seeking the approval of the leader or the people in my group, I felt off because I wasn’t getting along with them as well as others appeared to be. My allergic reaction to the sales stuff was noticed and not appreciated. Members of my group told me to get off it and just enroll people, as they had attempted to do. I personally felt stupid even considering it given that the first 3 months of anything are leveling period. I haven’t been in a position to know what I would have been advocating for until recently; and now that I am, I’m not advocating for it. The only egg on my face comes from my actions and these I can live with as they are both life lessons for me and chunks of information that I am passing along.