Chances are that if you’re subscribed to this newsletter, you’re interested in techniques for understanding others–specifically in the context of supporting people in your work. Chances are you’ve heard what the U.S. president-elect has promised, and a notable part of it goes against the philosophy of understanding and supporting a variety of different people.
I spent the last few days reading everything I could find about what people are thinking, reaching out for different authors from different thinking styles in different channels. I found a lot of interesting perspectives. Yet, they all still followed the idea that exploring other people’s reasoning is a positive thing. I worried that I wasn’t trying hard enough to understand outside my bubble. I tried listening to the talking heads on the television channel my parents watch. In the part I listened to, they had invited in another talking head from ESPN, and the reasoning I glean get from that segment was that kneeling during the anthem at a football game was not a proper form of protest. And half the air-time was devoted to commercials in styles I remember from the 80’s. Where else could I find other perspectives–people explaining their reasoning, especially about the extreme parts of the president-elect’s style? I’m not going to hate-sites, because their words would be painful to read, take weeks to forget, and would likely be unfathomable to me anyway. I am afraid of that kind of pain.
When I was in kindergarten and the other kids made fun of me, I would feel devastated. To give me a little self-confidence, my mother taught me the saying:
“Sticks and stones will break your bones,
but words will never harm you.”
I would recite that to myself in the worst moments. I would recite it for years. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized it was the flimsiest shield, the most self-harming thinking I could have ever adopted. Both violence and hateful speech are devastating.
So if we are in an age, worldwide, where violence, hateful speech, and discriminatory practices trend, how can we help each other? How can we shift thinking back toward good-will, collaboration, and innovation, especially outside our bubbles? There are many ways to start. I will focus on helping within the workplace. Here are a few essays that you might not have seen yet, starting with one that I wrote.
Helping Each Other Treat People with Respect – Indi Young
Emotions, Politics, and Being Human – Joseph Lee
The Real Class War – Carla Murphy
Lexington – Ian Williams
A Time to Act – Kevin Cheng
How the technology sector helped create President Trump – ComputerWeekly editor in chief Bryan Glick
A new theory why Trump voters are so angry – WashPo interview with Katherine Cramer
In my workshops I talk about letting go of your need to prove yourself, even though our whole lives have been dedicated to showing we’re worthy of a good grade, entrance to collage, a good job, decision-making in the conference room, etc. “That’s an amazing problem. I don’t know the answer. Let’s figure that out together.” It’s Safe to Say I Don’t Know – Richard Banfield
Learn a mode of thinking where your preconceptions don’t get in the way. “Your head is full of ideas & opinions.” Liminal Thinking – Dave Gray
In the following article, I am not comfortable with the undefined “wealthy” nor the use of the word “science.” I was also afraid it was another version of the shallow research (compared to deep understanding) of Paul Piff. But if you cut down past the attention-grabbing vocabulary, part of this article is interesting. Science Confirms Rich People Don’t Really Notice You–Or Your Problems – Lila MacLellan (via Dan Szuc)
My book Practical Empathy is now available on Audible! If you have wanted to read it, but not had the time to devote time to the pages, you can download and listen to yours truly narrate the book. (Please contact me if you truly cannot afford the price of the book. I have a few free download codes.)
Possible workshops: I have heard from a few people that an online workshop about scoping a research study, the process, mechanics, and various ways to accomplish a study would be welcome. If enough people are interested, I can pull one together before the end of the year that will work for the timezones of those interested. Or if you’re interested in a combing & summaries workshop, I can do that, too. Contact me to tell me your preference.
I’m in discussion with hosts to conduct the Practical Empathy workshops in Los Angeles, Portland, and Research Triangle. These workshops focus on defining this type of research and the specifics of listening sessions. I’ve also given the workshop as a remote instructor to groups gathered in Sydney and in New York City. Contact me if you’d like to organize a workshop in your area.
(Contact me via Twitter, Facebook, my website, or email if you have the address.)
What’s our best fit?
“We’re trying to explore the problem space, but we’ve run into problems. Can you double check what we’re doing?”
“We want to make sure we do the research right. And we want the skills in-house so we can keep exploring.”
mentor the team
“We want to explore something, but we don’t have the cycles to get involved. We want answers that are credible.”