The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Victim culture

Once in a while, in a workshop, I’ve seen participants retreat into their world after sharing that I as the facilitator hadn’t found the tone they wanted from me.

With growing frequency, I’m reading how people complain about the way they are spoken to. Reading articles on the subject it is the evolution of expectations that is most noticeable.

It corresponds to an ongoing elevation of beliefs and values into truths.

What this does is transform one person’s values and beliefs into a truth they expect others to perceive just like them. It established the assumption, that one’s worldview is the one others need to have.

A friend of mine, Claire, is working as simultaneous interpreter, talking about her job, she reminded me of the fact, that the name of her profession rightfully uses the word “interpretation”. It describes one of the essential aspects of her job. Incidentally also the one for which she feels most responsible. It contributes to helping the person being translated to be successful with his or her mission.

Within that responsibility, Claire will do the hard work to seek to identify herself as much as possible with the person she interprets. The better she can do this the better she’ll be able to also capture and transmit the emotions present in the words as spoken. At the same time, she will have prepared herself to know both the culture of the person she is translating as well as the one of the people listening.

Her job is to identify the message intended as accurately as possible. From there she as to transform it into the message that she shares in such a way that it can be heard as if it was the intended message.

What’s remarkable about the responsibility Claire carries when she exercises her profession is that it is the one we carry in every conversation we have. However, it seems to be disappearing.

There is comfort in the ability to put oneself into the position of a victim. It establishes the ability to transfer the responsibility to do things “right” to others. Today it seems to have become an acceptable means to gain power over others.

This isn’t new. The role of a leader always involved the necessity to find ways to align teams in such a way that they want to do the work. Which involved addressing the team members’ most potent power, resisting doing the work. What’s growing is that victim culture gives that resistance a voice. One leaders seem to become more and more overwhelmed by.

That’s especially true when leaders confuse leadership with marketing.


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