How we meet the other

How often does meeting people at work feels like this?

I’m just back home from a trip ‘down under’ where I had the chance to conduct a series of workshops with  members of the New Zealand Institute of Safety Management (NZISM) and Business Leaders Health and Safety Forum on Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR).

The central theme of these workshops was ‘how we meet people’. We know how to fix people, solve their problems, laugh at them or apologise to them when they make a mistake, or blame them but we don’t really know how to meet people. Once we understand the art and science of how we relate with the others, it does not really matter whether it is accident investigations, strategy discussions, risk assessments, field visits or simply attending to the needs of a depressed child who needs someone to listen.

I recall a discussion with one chief executive in New Zealand who I met on the night I conducted an event in Auckland. “Nippin, I did exactly what you said in the workshop today. I asked one of my staff, what would you like to share with me, and would you believe he won’t stop talking.

We know it works because in Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR) the idea of asking open-ended questions, relinquishing control, suspending our agenda and listening with intent has worked so well for so many years. Amazing things happen when we realise the power of the unconscious mind.

But I also know that some of us will jump to use this method as yet another technique to extract more value from people. All we want is a tool, a template or a checklist to engage with people. My point is without understanding the role of ethics, humans won’t connect. You can try!

Coincidentally, this topic also came up during my discussion with Dr Rob Long in Canberra who I met with on my way back home. Together we explored the uniqueness (not superiority) of Social Psychology of Risk. How SPoR methodology, methods and tools can help us become good listeners and become deliberate about our culture and culture change.

Yes, methods and tools are important but more important is the ethic, disposition, and methodology that underpins our methods. You won’t risk going to a doctor who has not studied the methodology of medicine treatment in applying methods and tools. Why would you take that chance when it comes to understanding and connecting with your people? Reliable diagnosis & sound treatment methods flow from a coherent worldview (philosophy, methodology, ethics and disposition).