Article 3: We are peaceful people

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Under construction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“We are peaceful people,” because we do not talk to each other when we are feeling angry (about something or somebody).

Instead we keep it (bottled) inside within us (causing our body blood pressures and the cost of running the Ministry of Health in the country both to rise).  We do this, because, “should we not bottle it within, and let it out, then than talk through things, we are likely to end up ‘killing each other'”.

So, we keep quiet.  Therefore we are a peaceful nation.

Have you heard of this phrase before?

Well … welcome to the world of non-generative conversations!  This is the world of not understanding and learning to work with distinctions or differences that exist between us.

When we reach a certain age, we do not expect to stay in conversation.  We expect to be heard rather than hear.  Conjure images of persons watching you speak as they listen.  This bodes well in most of our minds as we reach significant positions or age.   We often relegate pictures of dialogue and being in conversations to women, young persons, inter-generational conversations, and perhaps spouses.  But not the rest of us.

Discussions, Yes.  Debates, Yes, Negotiation, Yes.

Dialogue?  No.  The buck stops there.  That’s where we draw the line.

Men and women handle anger differently.  Men seek that space to figure out by himself what he would need to do next.  Women on the other find ways to close that space so she may express her feelings about her anger to someone who is willing to hear her, so that when she sees and feels she is being heard, she allows herself to release the pain enough to free up space within her to figure what she needs to do and so then becomes clearer what to do next.

But when women handle anger the way the men does and she’s not figuring out what to do, except to shut the world out from her, we are heading right into trouble.   As a nation, there is a crisis.  A personal as well as an identity crisis.  A crisis brought on by not knowing what to do.  Men become “lost” in this too as they are not hearing from their woman what is it that he needs to do differently and why so.  As a result, both sides stay polarized in their positions.   There is stuckness.  The easy way out of such polarization is to shut out one’s world from the other.

But for a woman such an action is likely to work against her.  It leads her to stay stuck in her hole.  She possibly comes out of it, bitter as her emotions are not yet been given space and time to be heard and for her to feel she is understood by someone other than herself.  This level of emotional validation is central to her personal well-beingness [this runs contrary to work spaces that advocate for professionalism or that emotional behaviors are discouraged or even frowned upon].   She may become distracted by life, even resorting to addictive tendencies (such as drinking or smoking), but she continues to stay unresolved internally.  It is more likely to lead her to a meltdown one day or she may end up over-consuming to a point that now illnesses take over and ride out her life.  Men however deal with such situations by living out their fantasy to be able to fly, disappear and reappear and zip in and out of realities as they see fit.  They lose touch with the realities and families around them.  Women, on the other hand, behave the ways of the men, either because that’s the behaviour they see of someone with whom they feel intimate with and look upon as their leader (be they the father, brother, boyfriend or husband) or do not have another female person or mentor in guiding them in the ways of the women that are emotionally (compared to physically) distinct from men.

But do we understand such distinctions exist between men and women or even just between ourselves?  What is getting in the way of us understanding such differences?

And particularly when men do not participate in dialogue, they miss out on a whole side of the story that is not partial to their own points of view.

What about differences in the ways we view at issues?  How would we handle them?

Article 2: Setting goals is the easy part. Reaching them is not!


It is a management question.

Are you there yet?  What are you doing to get there?  Have you set goals for you and your team?

Yet, setting of goals is really the easy part.  And there are tons of research and help on how we may do so and even on how to manage the settings.  Making out a list of “Things to do today” is one such everyday activity and we are pretty good at it.

However, reaching them is another story.  And there is not as much research on why it does not happen or how it may happen for our organizations.  And not to say, much help.

It is an area that we stay quiet on.  Sometimes, even a undiscussable.


And we learn over time with experience that using charisma, meeting of heads, efforts at cascading, seeking to agree, cajole, counsel and sometimes even assuming punitive stances does not realistically make that much of a difference in reaching those goals or implementing programmes as an institution or as a nation in a sustainable way.

And we may carry out various activities to do so.  Be it implementing performance management systems, setting of directives, designing project management, re-engineering business processes, coaching, mentoring, going for corporate retreats, organizing seminars, conferences, district and village meetings and signing of memorandums, monitoring and evaluation and so on.  The list of work required to reach those goals is seemingly endless and appears necessary.  But the price we pay as a nation is heavy (including for our attorneys).

We all know this deeply; though we may not necessarily say it out aloud.  We do lead ourselves to believe they work, and yet sometimes we would rather choose to continue to lower our standards in reality to meet realistic levels of achievement over time and not understand what’s getting in the way of reaching those goals.   The former is easier.  The latter is harder.  And we are sometimes not aware that such things may be happening to us.  Often we assume the reason is the fault of the employee, or of the team manager or of the market or of the citizens or even the global recession.  And we get away by blaming “them out there”.  We get away with crime!

However, the bottom line is the ability of the organization and / or of the nation to sustain itself.

When we do not do so, it usually shows up in our balance sheets as deficits.  Eventually.  Sometimes sooner than we expect leading us to make call outs to government for bailouts, bank loans or grants and aids.  Nevertheless, we would start the same rigmarole all over again when given a second chance.


What are we not learning?

The reasons cited above are what we see on the tip.  The obvious reasons.

The ones the problems present to us if we are not careful in search for the reasons more deeply.  Those are usually not the real ones.

If you have come this far, I am sure you are not surprised by this conclusion.  The real reasons are less obvious because they have become what we call cyclical in nature or assumes a systemic quality.   Systemic because of key interrelationships (vicious circles) that have taken on a quality of recurrent influence / causality over time.

When they assume that recurrent influence, they also tend to worsen in each iteration of the cycle and therefore these cycles grows deeper and away from our everyday perceptions of reality (underlying).  These structures do also one more thing.  They typically learn to defy any efforts on our part to ‘correct’ the situation or a problem with the programmes or initiatives institutions come up with.  Therefore programme or activity implementation efforts tend to stand to fail or do not reach the goals set for them.

Identifying these vicious circles require investigation and a tactic that is very different from the straight-line approaches we are used to when dealing with them.  One that requires the mind ‘to bend’.  The causality is not that much different from one nation to another (and so much less differences exist between institutions), nevertheless, rather than leave participants with the solution, I prefer participants learn to discover the reasons jointly with each other whilst with the facilitator.  This is strategic.

In this way, the participants learn to leave the sessions carrying with them in their minds and hearts ways to continue to deepen their practice with each other over time to get to the bottom of the issue, and eventually to reach there by themselves.