By Pepper de Callier
“We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” Anais Nin
What an eloquent reminder of our humanness. Nin is describing the most basic truth that one needs to grasp in order to embrace critical thinking. This quote applies to such a broad range of topics, but especially prejudices. In my work I often encounter issues dealing with the assimilation of two, or more different business cultures after a merger or acquisition. This often represents a time of stress and tension for a variety of reasons. One culture may be viewed as lazy, while that “lazy” culture looks at the other as being arrogant and not as competent. When I work with groups going through an event like this, I ask them to stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and realize it’s only normal to feel some angst, especially at a time like this. However, angst can often lead to fear and fear always looks for scapegoat, which usually surfaces as prejudice. One might hear comments floating around like, “I heard they are so tied up with trying to figure out their strategy, that they can’t execute anything,” or, “Those guys are so behind the times that they will drag us all down.” My goal is to get the people in each group to admit to the prejudice and accept it. It is only then that you can get beyond it. If I can get them to acknowledge their prejudice as a normal reaction, that’s when we can call it out, give it name, and set it aside while we look less for generalizations and more for the individual reality of who each other is as a person. If I can get the senior team leaders to see this, they can cascade it down to the lowest levels of the organization and that’s when relationship building can begin. How is your “vision” doing?
Good luck on your journey!