We need knowledge and caring and sharing

I came across this video by Vandana Shiva - a physicist and thinker the other day. She talks about the importance of knowledge and caring and sharing as a way of life, that impacts - everything. Businesses, interpersonal relationships, life on earth - everything.

It's a very articulate statement of the humanistic mindset. Check it out.


What makes a speak up or whistle blowing program effective?

According to Wim Vandekerckhove Principal Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour at the University of Greenwich, the key – is perceived responsiveness. Where people feel like their action made a difference. In behavioral terms – that means – it was positively reinforced. He says that companies should really think about ways they can be responsive without violating legal parameters.

There is a 10 minute interview with him on his research below. Looking at speak up programs – they know what doesn’t work – he looked at what does – and it’s consistent with what I teach in my programs.



He recommends multiple channels through which to speak up – with specific emphasis on casual channels – where you don’t report – but where employees can ask questions about whether something is ethical or not in a confidential way.  What he calls integrity questions. Where people can ask questions, and get counseling on how to proceed without actually reporting someone.   Because the feedback is immediate and usually helpful – people feel like action was taken, they were taken seriously and it reinforces and builds trust – the concern doesn’t go into a black hole where – nothing happens.  One company publishes the Q&A for other employees.  There are no legal restrictions on what you can talk about.

This “reporting without reporting” can also help identify patterns of concern for the organization. This is important because – the unwanted behavior – is often a pattern of behavior and seeing those patterns is crucial to helping stop it.

Always nice when the research in one area validates the findings in another. In this case – what he found was that speak up processes and mechanisms that positively reinforce people for speaking out – works.  Which is exactly what the behavioral science approach predicts. And it's exactly what I teach you should be doing in my online courses on how to stop bullying & harassment in the workplace

Learn more about taking a behavioral approach to the problem of bullying & harassment - here: https://humanistlearning.com/category/bullyingharassment/


Who inspires me to start Humanist Learning Systems?

I sometimes joke that I fell into my business backwards – screaming – NOOOO!!!!   But I’m glad I did.


I have an online learning company – do personal and professional training in humanistic management and behavior based approaches to things like harassment.  I also do groups and just got my first government contract. In the past few months, I’ve spoken to groups in India and been invited to speak at several conferences.

Who inspires me? This is going to seem odd – but Eleanor Roosevelt. Specifically her book – You Learn by Living. Her philosophy is humanistic and her book covers a wide array of topics, family, business, relationships. All business is relationships. And you do have to balance family and work.

Her approach, to be genuinely interested in the people you are working with and meeting, I love. It helps me get through everything.  And it also helps to remind myself that what I want to do can be done and I don’t have to sacrifice my values or my essential nature to do it.  Very inspiring.

I decided to start my business because I have knowledge to share that people need to know. Young people are committing suicide! If you know how to get unwanted behavior – like bullying to stop – then you have a moral obligation to share that. The challenge is – you can’t share it if you can’t feed and house yourself. I finally figured out how to a) make money while b) making sure that my content is free to parents and kids.  That was my big aha moment!  I want to teach parents what they need to know to help their kids. Where are the parents? In the workplace, being subjected to sexual harassment training that doesn’t really tell them anything useful.  If I can use that training to teach them how to actually stop bullying and harassment, I’m not only improving the workplace, I’m helping parents learn what they need to teach their kids! 

I resisted this for a bit though, as my passion is the promotion of philosophic humanism. But a member of the humanist community told me that teaching people how to stop bullying was the teaching of humanism.  Humanists use science and compassion to change the world and that is what I was doing. That was and is my approach to stopping bullies. That is when I came to terms with what my customers were asking for. 

But what really pushed me over the edge was a female friend. A woman I met in a women’s entrepreneur networking group. Terri Kelly ( https://www.linkedin.com/in/terrikelly/). She suggested I reach out to HR professionals to teach them about the science based approach to stopping bullying and harassment in the workplace. It was that little seed that helped me come up with a business plan that I REALLY like implementing and feel good about implementing.

Has it been a tough road? Yes. Businesses always seem to grow slower than you want them to and need them to. I bootstrapped myself. And during the middle of startup, my husband lost his job. I considered giving up on the business and getting a “real” job, but my husband wouldn’t let me. He told me that what I was doing was too important to stop.  If he hadn’t believed not only in me, but in the changes I hope to create in the world – I would have given up. 

Being on a mission to use business to change the world helps get through the tough times. My work isn’t simply a job and it’s not simply a way to make money.  I really am on a mission to create positive social change through humanistic science based education.  It is the mission that keeps me going when the going gets tough. It’s the mission that led my husband and family to support me to the point they won’t let me quit when I think about quitting.

Is what I teach really that important? Take a course and find out for yourself: https://humanistlearning.com/

Diversity is the Key to Effective Problem Solving

To me, humanistic management is about recognizing each individual - as an individual.  The good news is that doing this, is good for business and for society in general.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/05/how-to-sway-a-baboon-despot/556892/ 
I was speaking with a friend the other day about science and humanism. Humanism encourages us to use science to better solve our problems and the science keeps validating taking a Humanist approach.

Diversity is a case in point. Problem solving is difficult. To do it well, we need diverse opinions. Because when we don't have the full range of options available, we end up choosing the best of bad options. 

The Atlantic Magazine had a short article about this - titled: How to Sway a Baboon Despot, which is about democratic decision making in the animal kingdom. And yes - lots of animals make democratic decisions, including ones ruled by despots - like baboons.  https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/05/how-to-sway-a-baboon-despot/556892/

The 2 big take aways from the the article are this:

1) Lack of diverse options leads to bad decisions and bad outcomes for the group, and 
2) "Group decisions need not come easy—in fact, clashing perspectives may lead to superior outcomes. ...As long as animals share the same broader goal, a diversity of viewpoints does not tear their society apart but strengthens it, leading to better results for all."

When democratic decision making goes wrong, it's because there was a lack of diversity in proposed solutions. The article uses bees deciding where to make a nest as the main example, but it's clear - this is true in all species. 

The lesson? We need diversity and democratic decision making to get good results. And the key to making diversity work - is having shared goals and objectives.   Sounds A LOT like Humanism to me.

It isn't just animals who make better decisions with diverse democracy. It's Humans too. 

The same day I read the impact of democratic decision making and diversity on animal decision making outcomes. I also read an article about why democracies seem to be unable to deal effectively with income inequality.  

This is an opinion piece in the NY Times and it is well worth reading the entire thing because, it ultimately has to do with democratic decision making and the impact lack of diversity has on outcomes, which is what we are talking about here.  It is long - but worth the read. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/opinion/democracy-inequality-thomas-piketty.html

As a Humanist, I desire a society where everyone has the ability to thrive. This is not about equal outcomes, but about equal opportunity, which in turn requires a stable foundation on support. 

There has been a lot written about the negative impacts income inequality have on our society and on our economies. I'm not going to go back into that here and will instead, just provide a link to a couple of my articles on the subject. 

The point is - we, as a society, need to be less unequal in order for our society, economy and individuals to thrive.  How we do that - is a problem that requires solving.  We have not only not solved it, our attempts to solve it - have made it worse. 

What are we doing wrong and how can we fix it? 

The article does a good job of discussing this from a variety of scientific and sociological perspectives. The consensus is though, that poor and marginalized people aren't having their voices heard. 

I want to point out that this is not a partisan problem. It's not one party vs the other party. There are a variety of reasons why this is happening and there is not one single fix to the problem. This is what is called a "wicked problem." There are a lot of dimensions to why diverse viewpoints are not being taken into account in our democratic deliberations. There is the fact that money amplifies voices.Racism and bigotry. Propaganda and false information. Partisan/tribal thinking and more. The point is - this lack of diversity is causing bad problem solving on a wide variety of topics on a societal level.

The solution, is to make sure we not only make space for more diverse viewpoints, but that we demand that diversity. Because the lack of diversity - is hurting everyone, which is why everyone is upset. 

Taking a Humanistic approach - is not only scientifically validated, it's also a moral and pragmatic necessity. Take diversity seriously.


Because creating diverse work teams is difficult, we also need to take a scientific approach to dealing with the barriers to creating a diverse workforce - where everyone is respected. To that end - check out my training on how to use behavioral science to help with conflicts, harassment and more.

And yes - I do do group trainings.







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