June, 2015

Split Personalities?

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I ended up watching the Hollywood flick Shallow Hal when channel hopping for light relief recently.

It got me thinking: I was surprised to find the film a vehicle for the ideas of Tony Robbins, so that explains part of the unexpected cognitive impact! A philosophical theme in the movie was an exploration of what is truth in what we see: how what we notice in a situation or person might seem quite different to what others experience or what is going on beneath the surface.

This resonated. There have been three news stories over the last week that have divided many social media and news commentators.

Where did you stand in regard the coverage of Tim Hunt’s comments, Rachel Dolezal’s identity and Eleanor Hawkins’ actions?

Who is right? What was wrong?

As humans we have an in-built desire to see things in black and white terms. This is called splitting – and we are more likely to do that when feeling a bit anxious or insecure.

To err is human. To ‘split’ in how we see and discuss others’ mistakes seems to be human too.

Given my interest in ‘perspective management’ you will not be too surprised to know I have been trying to step back from simple agreement with one or other side in some of these news stories.

This is not about rejection of the commitment to the enlightenment project and it’s pursuit of truth. I am a bit, but not all that, post-modern! Rather I am keen to step back from a rush to judgement; WITOS.

I recognise the ambiguity of these situations – and my very partial perspective (mediated by the slant of various media outlets and the weight of social media responses).

In organisations it is good to be curious. It is especially good to explore other perspectives, especially when the truth seem so obvious. In applying the implications the insight of ‘splitting’ we need to resist simple judgements of good and bad:

– clinicians good, managers bad
– business leaders bad, workers good
– charities good, capitalism bad


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