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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finding Blind Spots

Listening to a course from the Teaching Company on Conflict Management. So far, it's pretty interesting (I'm only three and half lectures in). Some of it is just giving me vocabulary for things I already understand. Some of it has helped me grasp certain concepts better, like "win-win" (which is a oft-used, but quite poorly understood phrase, apparently).

But even as I listen, I find blind spots. There are assumptions. This is really a course about social conflict, and social conflict that does not include the possibility of violence. Not once has the idea that a conflict could turn violent even been brought up. I understand that it might not be appropriate for the audience or the course, but I think that, in  a very real way, the idea that violence would be introduced isn't even on the table. It might not even be in the room.

Similarly, so far all of the explanations for behavior have been psycho-social ones. The idea that hierarchical competition might sometimes be inspired by biology hasn't been broached at all. Of course, it might come up later.

None of this is a criticism of the course. So far, it's good. It has some valuable ideas, and I may end up recommending it. But it does get me thinking about how blind spots appear in our practice. Those blind spots are the places you get hammered.

Of course, by definition, you don't know where your own blind spots are. Which makes finding them tricky. Deliberately trying to break your paradigm probably helps. Not sure what else does.

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