Today, while doing some profession – related reflection on Groups and Group behaviors, I caught myself wrestling with (yet) another erroneous belief. It’s a kind of stereotype-thinking, I suppose, and yet it isn’t. Here’s my problem: I want to believe; I need to believe that collectives of well-trained and well-educated people share certain important attributes. For example, “All teachers like children”; or, “All financial advisors are honest”; or, All doctors are appropriately knowledgeable.” My rational mind knows that these statements are sometimes, but not always, true. But there’s an ideal in there somewhere, isn’t there? There’s an expectation that (looking at my own first career) someone who dislikes kids would never choose to become a teacher of children. I mean, why would they? Right? Not so much.
So it was, when I was engaged in group work recently that I had to explore this need I have to trust in a certain ‘standard’ of behavior. Silly, I know. Years of education and training don’t mean that we’re no longer hampered by the Ego’s evil twins: vanity and insecurity. In fact, sometimes the more elevated we become (with our own accomplishments and academic pedigrees), the more vulnerable we are to The Twins.
Collaborating in groups or teams…more expansively, coming together in any kind of relationship where personal and mutual goals are exposed and in plain view…creates a natural push-pull of ideas, needs, desires, and hopes for satisfaction. We all know that, in such instances, effective communication is key. But what if you’re involved with someone who can’t, or won’t talk, let alone express authentic feelings? What if that ‘someone’ sends emails and texts, but avoids actual conversation? And, finally, what if that person is someone you know has ‘both oars in the water’, and so is fully capable of hashing things out without undue ‘drama’?
Nowhere is it written that we all have to adhere to The Golden Rule in relationships. The Truth is (in my experience), that someone within the relationship has to take the lead in keeping interactions in a higher-energy place. It’s not fair; it’s not fun — especially if you’re The One always reaching for harmony and a productive outcome. But taking the high-road is expedient, and satisfying even if the other person (or people) doesn’t / don’t ‘rise’ according to our expectations and our desires. “At the end of the day…”, when your head relaxes into your pillow and you review how you handled yourself in a situation like this, you’ll rest easier. And, if you’re the one who looked for the nearest Exit when someone asked you to ‘engage’ fully and truthfully, tomorrow’s another chance to get it right.