Learning from people who we don’t agree with

Learning from people who we don’t agree with

I recently read this article, shared with me by a friend, and written by Mark Brandi a former ministerial adviser in the Bracks Labor government in Victoria, Australia.

The article got me thinking of the many conversations I have had with good friend James Ellis over recent months, where we have talked about the importance of learning from people who we don’t agree with, or who share different views from our own. Image Source

For me, the following quotes from the article sum it up well, and form my thesis for this piece:

“Online forums have become echo chambers where polemic masquerades as discussion and devotees crave the “gotcha” moment that confirms their prejudice. On Facebook and Twitter, participants seek out those who reflect or reinforce their own views. Real conversations are rare.  Without doubt, social media enhances our ability to connect and share knowledge. Paradoxically, the lack of engagement with opposing views disconnects us from reality.

Retweet. Like. Share. This could be doing us a disservice. If we are isolated from opposing views, we cannot test the strength of our arguments. If we surround ourselves only with those who agree, we will not convince anyone.

Online activism, while alluring, is not a replacement for real conversations.”

This resonated with me as I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we deal with, and make sense of the views and thoughts of people who don’t agree with me.


The Dynamics of Dehumanisation

Reflections of a ‘Doer’

Does learning more about ourselves help us to better understand and influence others?

I’ve learnt that if we are going to change the way things are done in risk and safety that the focus needs to be more on ‘influencing’ than ‘controlling’. In this piece, I’d like to explore the concept of learning more about ‘self’ in order to better understand and influence others. I’ll do this by sharing stories of my own experiences.

I am naturally a doer. Some describe me as an ‘Action Jackson’ and a person who likes to get things done. I like to organise and see things through to completion. For anyone familiar with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), my personality and type is ENFJ. It is the ‘J’ that drives what I describe above. (Of course understanding me is more than just applying a four letter label to me, but that’s a whole other Blog!)

For people who ‘know’ me only through my blog posts, you may be surprised when reading the description above. Based on the feedback that I receive, I know that one theme people may take from what I write is that I’m ‘anti-organising’, as I do ask a lot of questions on this subject.


Newsletter # 4 – May 2015

Dolphyn Newsletter # 4 – The Learning Adventure Continues

Learning to Embrace Ambiguity

“Organisations, despite their apparent preoccupation with facts, numbers, objectivity, concreteness and accountability, are in fact saturated with subjectivity, abstraction, guesses, making do, invention and arbitrariness, just like the rest of us”
Karl E. Weick (1969, p.5)

One of the things that stands out in our study of social psychology as it applies to dealing with risk, is that while people crave certainty, clarity and clear process, the world is full of grey, of ‘messiness’ and ambiguity. When leaders and organisations learn about, and can get their head around this, we can begin to understand that despite the best planning, the best processes (both of which are needed) and no matter the amount of regulation, things will not always go to plan.

We know that risk is about uncertainty. We also know that ‘the unexpected’ will always occur. Perhaps then, it is those organisations who focus on learning, who are adaptable and who seek to understand people that will work towards what Karl Wick refers to as a High Reliability Organisation.

In this edition of Dolplyn’s Newsletter, we share stories, research, learning and look at different ways to explore and understand risk. We hope you enjoy sharing in our learning adventure.



Culture of Care (and sackings…)

Culture of Care (and sackings…)

I caught up with a good friend Martin over the weekend and he was telling me about his work situation. Martin works in heavy industry as a contractor, he has done most of his life and he’s now in his mid 40’s.

Martin is currently contracting at a mine that is owned by a large company I think he said was called Neo Bingo, or at least something that sounded like that. We got to talking about safety (although I usually try to avoid this topic, it inevitably comes up in my social conversations) and Martin was telling me how working at Neo Bingo was as bad as it gets when it comes to safety. Martin shared his story with me, which reminded me of other similar stores.

Read the full story, first published HERE

I believe that there are many good people who work in safety. They do care for people, they do want to educate and support learning, but when you work in organisations like ‘Bingo’, it does things to you. The social arrangements and construct that we work in does affect our decisions and judgments, and I don’t imagine how working in ‘Bingo’ could be anything other than about control and power.

As an industry, and with the many good people that work in it, I hope we can lead ourselves through this. I hope that one day that I may be proud to say that I ‘work in safety’ and people don’t instantly think of me as a crusader. Sadly, I’m not sure that day will come, so in the mean time, I will continue on my learning adventure trying to better understand how to support and scaffold people to better appreciate why we do what we do.

Do you see a day when ‘safety’ will be about people, about understanding, about empathy and compassion, or will control continue to reign the day?

As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences and comments.