By MICHAEL G. MANES
Manes and Associates
I hope to trigger thinking and dialogue with what follows.
This is my opinion. Some will agree. Some will disagree. Some will accept these thoughts, some will challenge them, and some will cherry pick what they like and ignore what they don’t. Some will interpret the words differently than my intention in stringing them together. Some will accuse me of being crazy. (Don’t feel bad. My wife will, more often than not, agree with you). Hopefully we’ll all benefit from this process. “None of us is as smart as all of us!” (Unknown)
The good news of these opinions is that most may be, at least partially, right, and none are all wrong. In a pre-pandemic world, we could visit in our office, conference room, bar (think Cheers) and eyeball the problem while working to agreement.
Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand!” Today, our country is a house divided or maybe more correctly a house fragmented. We are no longer a Norman Rockwell painting that reflects the serenity of the good old days. We’re a mosaic of a country that is less united than ever before.
Diversity can be good. We don’t learn anything new from those who think just like us. Some people resent diversity because they don’t want to be taken outside of their comfort zone to a place where they are uncomfortable.
Remember the thumb is the most important finger on your hand. The thumb provides opposition to each of the other digits and greatly increases the effectiveness of hands on work. I knew a surgeon in the 1970s, who lost his thumb in an accident. He was not able to continue his surgical practice. As a surgeon, he was declared totally disabled.
Despite or maybe because of living in an “E” world of global connectivity via Facebook and other social media, societies seem to be increasingly polarized and fragmented. According to more noted data, health and social scientists, Leila Hedayatifar, Rachel A. Rigg, Yaneer Bar-Yam and Alfredo J. Morales, this phenomenon is “rooted in the underlying complex structure and dynamics of social systems. Far from homogeneously mixing or adopting conforming views, individuals self-organize into groups at multiple scales, ranging from families up to cities and cultures….”
Let me suggest a few ways to better cope with, adapt to, or just live with this fragmentation:
Don’t try to be all things to all people. Be the best you can be for the people that engage with you and you engage with. Hopefully they can benefit from what you know and do, and you can benefit from their contributions. Remember, we don’t learn anything new from someone who thinks just like us, and all too often those who think just like us merely reinforce wrong ideas and beliefs that we have.
Hopefully we will all begin to re-engage as individuals in our organizations. Some of us will be ecstatic about getting back to normal; others will be upset because the new normal of working at home, often alone, is not a permanent change. Regardless, be open to these four thoughts on learning and flexibility in the process of life.
-“Love your enemies, it will drive them crazy!” (My momma)
-“Squint with your ears.” (several writers on leadership)
-“We have two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” (Epictetus, Greek philosopher, 60 A.D.)
-“Effective communication is about getting what’s in your heart out through your mouth or by some other socially acceptable means.” (James P. Barton, Ph.D.)
Remember also, the total impact of a message is only about seven percent verbal. Tone, voice, inflections and other sounds make up the 38 percent linguistic component. The remaining 55 percent is non-verbal.
The post-pandemic change of going back to work may be as traumatic or more traumatic as was the isolation of our recent past of working from home alone.
Prepare for your tomorrow, whether you like it or not!
Peace… Find it, share it, encourage it. Life is good!
MICHAEL G. MANES, owner of Manes and Associates, a New Iberia-based consulting business focusing on planning, sales and operations, and change. Manes can be reached at www.squareoneconsulting.com or 337-577-3885.