I have been giving a lot of thought to the concept of political correctness.  I say the concept because I don’t hear the phrase spoken much anymore, and it seems this may be due to the fact that it has literally permeated society.  And, I wonder what it has done, and does, to our ability to be honest and trustful.

I am learning that protecting and caring are not mutually inclusive.  For instance, with my children, I strive to do less of keeping the world from them than supporting their understanding of it.  I don’t see the point in protecting them after the fact from anything to which they’ve been exposed.  I believe we are meant to have the experiences we do and that trying to save my children from their experiences by not addressing the truth of those experiences does not serve them.  If I think for a moment that an experience is “not allowed”, I may shy away from addressing it with my children.

Along these lines, I find that political correctness more often perpetuates the same misunderstanding and intolerance it may have meant to resolve.  If I am told to be a certain way, if the choice is not mine – to be more respectful for instance, am I really more respectful?  I may appear more respectful, but do you really have my respect? 

I can see where political correctness sought to bypass the time necessary to empower people’s choices through awareness, understanding and practice.  Such a process takes time and effort.  By bypassing the opportunity to have people understand and make better choices for themselves, we now have, all too many perhaps, people who have actually become disconnected from how they feel or what they think about things because it “isn’t allowed”, it isn’t “politically correct”.  Being so caught up in the need to appear “politically correct”, prejudices and hatred have been buried into subconscious and reveal themselves in the active polarization of groups and society.

If we cannot be honest with ourselves about how we feel or what we think, how can we be honest with others?  If we cannot be honest with others, how can we possibly work through our differences?  For me, polarization is symptomatic of the need for honesty toward working through real differences.  If we are living a “politically correct” existence, how can we be real and truly make a difference in the world?

Most graciously,

~ Jacqueline

Something has got to give.  If you haven’t read it, Hofstede’s Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind has a lot of great insight.  I’d like to share a piece with you here.   Hofstede refers to differences between cultures that have either a short-term or long-term orientation.  One of these differences is the axiom that serves as the code to how cultures approach differences.  The axioms are that we can look at our differences in two ways:  1) If A is true, it’s opposite B must be false or 2) If A is true, it’s opposite B can also be true.  Within the broader text, the second axiom goes further to say … and together they produce a wisdom superior to either A or B.

There are a number of interpretations that might be drawn.  Win-Lose vs Win-Win being one.  When we are able to accept another’s perspective and appreciate both our own needs and those of another or others, with time, attention and effort, we are often able to produce a greater solution.  One could argue that such ability is key to innovation.  Perspectives come together to find a solution taking into account as many angles as exist perspectives.  This brings to mind how valuable diversity of thought can be when we are able to transcend our need to win at another’s expense and appreciate and assimilate alternate viewpoints.

The question is raised, how does this happen?  How do we create such a situation?  I submit it starts with creating a foundation of trust, starting with self trust, which inevitably builds our trust of others.  Because we see the world as we are, when we trust ourselves, we in turn trust the world around us.  Such trust enables us to approach others and situations trusting unknown intent.  We drop the assumption of bad intent and replace it with good.  Just following the 80/20 rule, a vast majority of the time, especially within communities, whether neighborhood or professional, we are going to encounter trustworthiness.  I would go so far as to argue that even half of the 20% encompasses misinterpreation and miscommunication.

Folks, there is more positive than negative in our world.  It is simply our focus on the negative that magnifies it.  We want more of the same than our need to “win” will let us realize.  So next time someone has a different view than you, practice listening with heart.  You might just hear something familiar.  I’m willing to bet on it.

Hugs,

Jacqueline

A former colleague shared on Facebook recently an article that seemed to defend the humanities ( http://chronicle.com/article/Beyond-Critical-Thinking/63288/) while challenging the fact that critical-thinking has become erroneously defined as singularly critical.  Then, I attended a symposium and ended up talking with the admirable presenter, an educator, and for all the intelligent conversation we did have, one thing discussed with another colleague struck and disturbed me for which I did not have words to respond at the time. 

The long done erosion of fine arts in schools, what appears to be a need to defend the humanities curriculum in higher education, and then the promotion of competency based training… at the expense of liberal arts in higher education, leaves me fundamentally disturbed.  The comment that started this discussion that ended with this latter observation was “who has ever been asked to deconstruct Beowulf in an interview?”!!! I have to say I was astounded to hear this dialogue between my colleagues whom I admire as intelligent.

I’ll own the fact that I may be biased, having been educated in the arts.  I held concern early on how such an education would translate into the world of employment and was assured that the liberal arts breed true leadership.  They do this because they expose us to a broader purview and to activity that expands the capacity of the brain, that feeds creativity.

Is creativity not tantamount to innovation in the business world?  And I read all over, and truly believe, innovation to be a critical element to success in a global economy.  So why is it that we seem to want to undermine our capacity in this realm?  There is something to everything, so yes community colleges offering competency based education has a definite place, but could it be that through this under-exposure to the arts that we have undermined our societal capacity to conceptualize, think “out of the box”?  Are we now recognizing a need for that which we have bred out through the loss of arts based education?

Just because we do not understand a thing, because we can not recognize immediate value, is it of any less value.  Truly, there is something to everything; though no one thing is the end all, be all in itself.  I propose that under-exposure to the arts has created a kind of prejudice, one that devalues diversity of thinking.  We see it in communication training where the art of conversation has been usurped by one’s ability to form a sound bite that has any chance of being heard.  Our capacity to listen, to hear, to just appreciate something for what it is, to reflect, to share in-depth, to take… time…  Are we literally breeding this out ourselves as a society?  Have we become the society of the “quick fix”?

I witness this in a focus on short-term and short-sighted problem solving, in a reluctance to invest in potential for the long-term, in our need for “specialists” who can fill an immediate skill requirement with no regard to satisfying our human craving for growth.  Technology could allow us more time to spend on one another as humans, but instead it has fed a desire for even we humans to produce better and faster.  Are we set to dehumanize our selves?  Turn ourselves into the robots we seek to create from technology?  Is that it?  In order to create robots in our own image, must we first reduce ourselves to becoming the robots we seek to create?

Take… time… and give someone a hug.  It is so much more than a handshake.

~ Jacqueline

I recently finished reading Marcus Buckingham’s latest success, Find Your Strongest Life.  Ever since I was introduced to his perspective on Strengths when he was with the team at Gallup, I have been absolutely sold on the concept.  Check it out.

That being said, I waited until I’d finished the book because an alternative perspective occured to me early on based on research points he shared in deriving his own material.  I wanted to see whether he happened upon it at some point in the book, which he did not, so here I am.

The research points Marcus reported that had an impact on my thought process were as follows:

  • As a result of having better education, better jobs, and better pay, women today are [not] happier and more fulfilled than [we] were forty years ago.  In fact, surveys of more than 1.3 million men and women reveal that women today are less happy relative to where [we] were forty years ago, and relative to men.
  • Most men (and women for that matter) [actually do not] think that men should be the primary breadwinner and women…the primary caretake of home and family.  In fact, opinion of which roles are most appropriate for men and women to play is not now determined by…sex.
  • Women would [not] prefer to work for other women.  Almost twice as many women want to work for men rather than women; 40 percent compared to 26 percent, with the remainder saying they wouldn’t care one way or the other.

In addition to these, I take into consideration these other observations:

  • In matriarchal societies and in current diversity studies, women are typically seen to tend toward collaboration and an equality of power vs men who tend toward hierarchy and a structured allocation of power.  This is well illustrated where men will typically set up a room for a meeting with a head table vs. women who will typically set up a meeting room “in the round”.
  • Our business practices coming out of the industrial age are highly influenced by what worked for those coming out of the military and starting businesses, which was a considerably great majority of men returning from two major wars occuring within decades of each other.  Quite simply, what resulted is a hierarchical structure to ensure compliance to the goals and tasks at hand.

I do not discount Marcus’ conclusion that women are overwhelmed with choices in life, more to juggle and balance, as this is my experience.  It just also occurs to me how we, as women, with a generally different way of working, in our quest for equality, have been molding ourselves into a primarily male construct, as it were.  Not that this is right or wrong, mind you, it just is what it is.  I submit that our choice to plug in to something less natural for us has left us, generally speaking, much less than satisfied even though our quest for freedom to contribute to society is being addressed.  This likely explains why so many businesses are being started by women in our more current day and age as a way to more freely do as we do.

I like to believe that now that women are in the workforce in force, we are having an affect on the overall construct of the workplace and how we do business in general.  It is my belief that by businesses actively appreciating what women and myriad points of our diverse population bring, will our US of A meet with true success in leading the global economy.