Monday, September 1, 2008

Calling a spade a long handled digging instrument

Abraham Lincoln has a quote that goes "Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves". So how do you tell someone something that you know will challenge their own perception without it getting dimissed, or worse, becoming alienated by them?

Like in a relationship, is compromise not a bad thing? How do you tell someone that their bum does look big in that, without incurring resentment but still allowing them to access to their blindspots? Is it in assertive communication? Do we need to explicitly set the ground-rules, create expectations that engender trust in a process, divorcing from the individual? Ralph Stacey talks about knowledge residing in interactions, not individuals, and this may be a great way to deflect blame and anxiety from individuals. This is much more true in a virtual environment, and thanks to Dr Daneshgar, something that needs to be made explicit when setting up collaborative teams that don't have access to non-verbal clues. There are times you need to answer a question the way the requester wants it answered in order to keep communication open, and opportunies to be franker at other times, all signalled by subtle clues.

I like the potential the Johari window has in allowing you to improve yourself, but the emphasis surely is on allowance; leading horses to water, etc. I was thinking about my project and the way I had been describing the knowledge sharing problem in our organisation, trying to be as candid as possible. I know from my discussions with faculty previously that my plea to create conditions for Social Capital have led me to be called a 'Marxist', albiet in a joking way. However, there is more wisdom in humour, than humour in wisdom...

So what was on my Desk Calendar quote today? A line from Bertrand Russel, 'Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do'.

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