Is it always right to be right?




Дата канвертавання22.04.2016
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IS IT ALWAYS RIGHT TO BE RIGHT?

A Tale of Transforming Workplace Conflict into Creativity and Collaboration

A parable written by Warren Schmidt & BJ Gallagher Hateley, NY: AMACOM, 2001.

There once was an organization where people were always right. They knew they were right. . . and they were proud of it. It was a place where people stated with confidence, “'I am right and you are wrong." These were words of conviction, courage, strength, and moral certainty. No one was ever heard to say, "I might be wrong” or “Perhaps I’ve misjudged.” Nor would anyone say, “You might be right” or “Perhaps you have a point there.” For those were words of weakness, doubt, cowardice, and moral ambiguity. When differences arose among the people of this organization . . . they looked not for truth, but for confirmation of what they already believed. When differences arose between management and employees, management would say:

We have worked hard and made many sacrifices to build this great and prosperous organization. We are the envy of other enterprises, for we are strong and powerful. Our success is built on solid values: return on investment, profitability, shareholder value, and global competitiveness. The proof of our success is everywhere to see: Look at our stock rating, our influence and prestige, our market share. Look at the high standing we enjoy in our industry. We don’t understand you employees today—your chronic complaints, your values and work habits, your unwillingness to sacrifice for the organization. Why are you employees so unhappy—so ungrateful?
MANAGEMENT WAS RIGHT, OF COURSE, AND THEY KNEW IT.

But the employees of the organization would respond:

We are unhappy with good reason. We see a place where greed and selfishness are the order of the day . . . a place where looking good is more important than being good or doing good. Management proclaims that “People are our most important resource”– but reality does not match your rhetoric. You are interested only in profits, not people. You have sold your souls to Wall Street, and you worship at the altar of short-term profits. How can you expect us to be loyal to you and to work hard just so you can get your bonuses?
THE EMPLOYEES WERE RIGHT, OF COURSE, AND THEY KNEW IT.

And the gap between management and employees grew wider . . . and deeper . . .


When differences arose between people of different colors, those of one color would say:

We have worked for many years to create an organization of fairness and equity for all our people. We have come a long way since our early days, and we have made much progress. Anyone who is objective would agree that work life is better than ever. Just look how much people of all colors have achieved. Opportunity is abundant as never before. We’ve promoted you, given you recognition, and more responsibility . . . Why aren’t you grateful and content with your success?


THESE PEOPLE WERE RIGHT, OF COURSE, AND THEY KNEW IT.
But those of other colors would reply:

The progress you speak of is too little, too late. You say that you value diversity, but hollow tokenism is all that we see. Our training is inferior, our pay inadequate, and we are too often treated as second-class citizens. The playing field is still not level . . . and so many doors remain closed to us. While blatant racism has often been addressed, the subtler hurts persist—eroding our spirits, impeding our progress. How can you expect us to be content when we still have so far to go?


THESE PEOPLE WERE RIGHT, OF COURSE, AND THEY KNEW IT.
And the gaps between people of different colors grew wider . . . and deeper . . .
When differences arose between the departments, people of one department would say:

Our way is the right way. “We’re the ones who do all the work around here. You are just overhead—you don’t pull your weight. If it weren’t for us, this place would be history. We’re in charge for good reason—we are the smart ones, with talent and skill. Stop your complaining, get with the program, and work like a team . . . or we’ll find someone who will.


THESE PEOPLE WERE RIGHT, OF COURSE, AND THEY KNEW IT
But the people of other departments would reply:

We beg to differ . . . You strut your big egos; you bully and bellow; you use your clout to try to make us comply. We know who really makes things work around here . . . You’d be in deep trouble without our support. You are the ones who are mistaken. You should appreciate us. Who processes the paper? Who makes the work flow smoothly? Who crosses the t’s and dots the i’s? Who sees to quality and maintains standards?


THESE PEOPLE WERE RIGHT, OF COURSE, AND THEY KNEW IT.
And the gaps between the departments grew wider . . . and deeper . . .
When differences arose between men and women, the men would say:

We have spent our lives sacrificing and building our careers. We have climbed to the top through hard work and determination. We know how to work as a team, we don’t whine and complain . . . If you want equal treatment, then act more like us. We treat you with respect, and we’ve opened up opportunity, but don’t expect to get more than you earn.


THE MEN WERE RIGHT, OF COURSE, AND THEY KNEW IT.
But the women would say:

We are tired of waiting and paying our dues. We’ve been in the pipeline too long, working and waiting for our reward . . . We see no light at the end of the tunnel. We work and we work, only to hit our heads on a shatter-proof glass ceiling. When we try to be like you, we get labeled as too aggressive; and when we soften our style we’re seen as too weak. We’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. This is a game we never can win.


THESE WOMEN WERE RIGHT, OF COURSE, AND THEY KNEW IT.
And the gap between the genders grew wider . . . and deeper . . .
And so it went in this organization . . . . Group after group defined the right and took a stand against those who opposed them. lt happened between the superstars who flaunted their achievements, and those who were the also-rans, regarded as “not leadership material.” It happened between the futurists who urged, “Faster, faster,” and the traditionalists who pleaded, “Let’s not abandon our roots.” It happened between the high-tech people who said, “Technology will liberate us,” and the hi-touch people who said, “Technology is killing our souls.”
EVERYONE WAS RIGHT, OF COURSE, AND THEY KNEW IT.
And all the gaps grew … wider …and deeper… until finally one day … all interaction and activity ground to a halt. Each group stood firm in their “rightness,” glaring with proud eyes at those too blind to see the Truth. They were determined to maintain their positions at all costs--for this is essential when you are right. No one traveled across the many gaps. No one talked to those on the other side. No one listened. Everyone was frozen in their rightness. Life became cold and lonely, with everyone so isolated. People were resentful and angry. Random acts of sabotage occurred. Their place of work grew grim and gray. . .
Then . . . one day, a strange new sound was heard in the organization . . . “Uh, maybe I was wrong,” Someone said softly. A collective gasp of disbelief was heard throughout the organization. How could anyone say such a crazy thing? They thought they must be hearing things.
Perhaps you were right after all,” someone else said quietly. The people looked around to see who could be uttering such nonsense. They laughed at the stupidity and weakness of such words.
But the voices persisted . . . talking back and forth, each exploring the other’s point of view. After a while, some of the people began to listen . . . They listened with uncertainty at first, unaccustomed as they were to hearing new words from new voices. They listened carefully; they listened with reservations. But they listened. And as they listened, they were surprised as they discovered things in common they had not known before. And as they listened anew, they began to see anew . . . seeing fellow workers and good people where they once had seen only adversaries.
Here and there, people joined together to act upon their newly discovered common interests . . . Creative projects blossomed throughout the enterprise. With each new joint effort, people’s trust in one another grew . . . along with their hopes for the future. They developed a new confidence in their ability to shape their own destiny . . . together. They stated their new beliefs in a “Declaration of Interdependence”

All people are created equal, but each brings unique skills and abilities to work.

All people are endowed with certain inalienable rights, but each must assume corresponding responsibilities

For the success of all depends on the commitment of each to support equality and individuality, rights and responsibilities.

In this organization, people had learned how two rights can make a serious wrong. They saw how little courage it takes to point the finger of blame . . . and how much courage it takes to extend the hand of partnership. And they realized how little wisdom there is in defending a narrow right . . . and how much wisdom there is in seeking a broader understanding. Most important of all, the people of this organization had learned that the quest for Truth is never over . . . and the challenge is always the same:

To stop fighting long enough to listen . . .

To learn from others who differ . . .

To try new approaches and take new risks . . .

To seek out and build new relationships . . .

And to keep working at a process that never ends . . .


THE END OF THE STORY (…the beginning of the future?)

[Note: This parable was modeled after a society-based parable by the same name, written by Warren Schmidt and published in the Los Angeles Times in November, 1969. It was then made into a film, narrated by Orson Welles, that won an Academy Award as the “Best Animated Short Subject” of 1971.]


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