Can you all just stop being sexist for a little bit.

In the past week - I was told I was a slut who didn't get laid enough. And I witnessed people complaining about women they don''t like - but referring to them in - sexually dismissive terms. 

And yes- people dismiss men and label them jerks, aholes and other things too. We humans find all sorts of reasons to justify not listening to other people regardless of gender or skin color. If we can label the other person - evil or insane - in some way - we can justify not listening to them. This is our tribal brains at work.

Part of my practice as a Humanist is to - push past my tribal brain and bring that person into my circle of humanity.  Is it easy to do? Of course not. Sometimes people really are divorced from reality and sometimes they really are behaving like aholes. 
  And sometimes - you are best off - ignoring them and not paying what they have to say - any mind. 

The problem is - sometimes the people we are dismissing - shouldn't be dismissed because they have something to say- and just because we don't like what they have to say - doesn't mean - that what their are saying is bad or that they shouldn't be saying it. That is one of many ways we humans deal with the experience of cognitive dissonance - which is when information makes us feel uncomfortable because it contradicts what we think we know to be true. 

People who take critical thinking seriously - understand that IF you dismiss people - who have something important to say - you are making a mistake. 

Which brings us back to the "reasons" we dismiss other people and what they have to say and why the reasons we use to dismiss other people's view points matter. 

And marginalized people (whether it is for gender or skin color or education level or economic status or whatever) tend to get dismissed in very specific ways that have nothing to do with whether what they are saying is valid or not.

Honestly - most white men - get dismissed when they behave badly. And even then - they have to behave REALLY badly before they will be dismissed as - an ahole or jerk or delusional. And even then - they might still not get dismissed if they have enough political or social status that we forgive them their tresspasses.

Women, on the other hand, are often dismissed, not because we have behaved badly - but rather - because - we are nasty or disgusting or some variation on the - sexually unpure theme. In other words, it's not that what we said was so horrendous, it's because we are sluts that need to get laid. 

What brought this up was that an honorable member of the House of Representatives - verbally assaulted another honorable member of the House of Representative - on the steps of the capital - by saying - they are disgusting. 

And - here - we need to be honest with ourselves. A congressman calling another congressman disgusting - conjures different images when it's a man calling another man disgusting - than when the situation is a man calling a woman disgusting or when it's a woman calling a man disgusting. 

  • A man calling a man disgusting - is probably referring to his hygiene or something he has done that was disgusting.  
  • A woman calling a man disgusting probably means he did something sexually disgusting.  
  • A man calling a woman disgusting - is dismissing her as some sort of sexual deviant who is not worth his time to take seriously. 
Again - be honest - these - reactions we have and the images of the stereotypes we have in our heads - when a man is called disgusting vs. when a woman is - is - what are known as implicit biases.  

It's the same reason why white men may be brutish - but black men are thugs.  Implicit bias. 

The demeaning and dehumanizing people - to win arguments - is - as old as time. But - it's a mistake to dismiss people we disagree with - by denigrating - not their ideas - but them as human beings. 

Which is why I wanted to say - can we all stop being sexist for a little bit. In a discussion board on the male congressman calling a young female congresswoman - disgusting - another white male - go figure - said - yes - he's an ahole - but she's a performance artist - so - it was a perfect storm.   

And then - he played dumb that anyone - would consider - describing an honorable congresswoman - as a performance artist  - as being sexist. 

Again- we are all adults here - what do you imagine when you imagine a female performance artist?    .... I rest my case. 

If you find yourself dismissing any marginalized person by suggesting they adhere to a sexist or racist or otherist trope - - just stop already. This is getting old. 

And - when people call you out - don't get defensive - just say - my bad and try to improve in the future.  Especially if you view yourself as an ally. 

No - this is not tone policing. Not it's not language censoring.  No - this doesn't stifle legitimate debate. It's just a request - from people who get called these stupid sexist names all the time to dismiss us as unworthy of speaking in a public forum -  that - you please - stop.  

 Because seriously - if you weren't aware of how common this is - understand - many women - most days get called these names and dismissed in this way. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. 

Resolving a dispute in the workplace

I teach the Socratic method for resolving disputes in the workplace. There is a reason this methodology has been taught for thousands of years. It works. 


This technique assumes the other person is not being a bully or abusive – but is a normal well-intention ed person who you disagree with. However, even if the other person is being abusive – this will still work – just for different reasons.

The basic idea is that – you stop advocating for what you want. You don’t – let it go – you just set it aside to do – some learning first.

And you ask questions to try and understand where the other person is coming from and more importantly WHY they are advocating or saying the things they are. Everyone in the workplace is under stress.  They may be short and just rather demanding. And they may not have explained why this crazy thing that makes no sense has to happen. When you step back – you can ask supportive questions and get that information and integrate it into your ask.  Which is the 2nd part.

Once you know – really know and understand what is driving the other person – you can adjust your side of what you want and need to incorporate everyone’s concerns and create a win win solution that will help everyone. This is what leaders do well.  It’s what makes a manager – a leader.

To do this – you need compassion – to view the other person – not as an adversary – but as a colleague who is struggling with something. And humility to understand the world isn’t just about you and your needs. Other people matter too.

And yes, this works. As soon as people do this – it transforms their conversations into things that can be collaboratively solves instead of fights to be won.  My course – by the way is called – how to win arguments without arguing. There is a reason this technique has been taught for millennia. It’s effective.

As to what happens when you use this with a bully – it disarms them. This isn’t about allowing someone to walk over you. It’s about working WITH someone. If that person isn’t capable of working WITH people – that will become clear, but don’t assume that’s the case unless they really resist. What generally happens is that you can neutralize a bully so that they stop bullying you – because their bullying isn’t working. It’s not as simple as that – obviously – but it’s often what happens. You become their ally and they start seeing you as an ally and they start treating you differently and you can – control them through niceness.

If they are have a mental health issue though – they will just spin out of control. The key when dealing with an abusive person is to get any agreement that is made through this process – in writing. So that there can be accountability later if the person is a bully and doesn’t do what they promised to do. You use that written agreement – to re-enter socratic inquiry – but – with witnesses.

Hope this helps – let me know if you have any other questions.

My course and book are available at: https://humanistlearning.com/book-how-to-win-arguments-without-arguing/

If people are dealing with a bullying boss – I have a program for that as well. https://humanistlearning.com/book-program-how-to-humanistically-handle-bad-bullying-bosses/

 


What I learned from my craziest and best professor

I was reading something about the evils of communism and the person was ranting about how colleges are filled with communist professors.  First - anyone whose actually gone to college will tell you - they probably NEVER had a communist professor. Universities are not actually the bastions of extreme liberalism they are sometimes portrayed to be.


Second: I thought worrying about communism on college campus was - a cold war thing. I guess people just don't like giving up a good boogeyman. 

As for - communist professors - I only ever had one in my entire college career  - and he was awesome!  Crazy. But awesome.   

My one and only communist professor was a sociologist at my local community college. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and learned quite a lot from him about what sociology is and why it's an important field of study - and how things are studied and why it's important to study them sociologically. 

I don't think he managed to turn any of us into communists. Mostly because - he never tried. This was a sociology class - not an economics class. We were learning - sociology. 

As awesome as he was - I was NOT surprised that he was fired immediately after our semester ended. He was not fired because he was a communist, that only came up once. or twice or a few times. No - he was fired - either because one time he asked us if any of us had seen his heroin dealer or because one time - he told us there was no god. And both of those statements freaked some of my classmates out. A LOT!

Given the - rather crazy nature of this teacher - why did I think his class was so awesome? Because we learned so much. Every class - he would do a poll on some topic that sociologists have the tools to weigh in on. And then he would play devil's advocate against the majority viewpoint and introduce sociological studies to argue his case. It was very challenging - but in a good way.  And - as I said - he taught us about sociology. How it works. What they find. What the limitations are - how the information is used to create public policy. Basically - everything you would want to know in an introductory class about sociology. 

Yes - he was kind of crazy.  But there was also a method to his madness. He took a poll - figured out what the majority thought - and then challenged the majority thinking. He could clearly argue both sides well and effectively. The result was his classes were totally engaging and thought provoking and we learned about sociology.  And yes - he most likely knew in advance what the majority was going to vote for in any given poll - he was a sociologist after all. 

I can see though - how if your opinions were ALWAYS on the side he argued against - it would be upsetting. But I'm also sure that had the majority of us - been atheist (which is unlikely - but totally possible - again - thanks sociologists for your work on that)  he would have been able to argue that there was in fact a god and we were wrong and then he would have discussed all the sociology research on religion.  He clearly felt his goal - was to challenge us to think and to not shy away from studying and looking at the evidence for and against - any position. 

The other thing about the crazy things he said - like - have you seen my heroin dealer and - there is no god - is that ... I'm not sure anything he told us about himself was true. Mostly, I think he just really enjoyed challenging people's perceptions & would say things about himself that were controversial to - bring up the subject, whatever it was, not as an abstract topic - but as one that effects real people.  If they didn't know an atheist - now they did. If they didn't know a heroin addict - now they did. You get the point.

So - what did I learn from this crazy communist professor?  I learned that learning and thinking and being challenged in your thinking - can be REALLY fun. 

I learned that most people don't like having their ideas challenged and get really cranky when they have to defend their ideas. 

I learned what sociology is and what sociologists do and how pragmatic and useful their work is to solving real life problems. (which was the point of the class).

And - I learned not to be so judgmental of people who are different than me. 

What I didn't learn from my communist professor - was - to be a communist.  I'm still the same philosophically - pro market person I was when I took the class.  

My nutty communist professor was hands down - one of the smartest educators I ever studied under. The man was crazy brilliant. 

So - if you are for some reason concerned about communists teaching your kids in college - don't be. 


Organizational Structure - Emergent Coordination

I came across a very cool graphic about organizational models - using insects.  What are the different ways animals and insects coordination their behavior. It's called - Swarm Command and Control Models.  It has implications for how we organize as humans.


I like this as a graphic representation on how to think about organizing. 

I like the emergent coordination best actually. The International Humanistic Management Association is emergent coordinated.  And we are loving it - but it has taken us some time to help - orient people to this form of organizing because people - expect hierarchy and central control. Most people have never experienced organizations operating in an emergent coordinated fashion.

Specifically – Onboarding – has been – REALLY interesting.  One of my backgrounds is in volunteer management and the emergent paradigm – made it difficult for me – to join and participate at first and to get my grounding – as I am used to – central or hierarchy control. 

Now that I understand it – I’ve helped facilitate – on-boarding of new volunteers and nodes so they can operate independently but still be coordinated with the larger – swarm. 

If you want to learn more about the International Humanistic Management Association - visit their website at: http://humanisticmanagement.international/

If you want to learn more about how to do humanistic management and leadership - take one of my courses over at : https://humanistlearning.com/ 

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