Thursday, July 12, 2018

humans are just fascinating

What are the deciding factors influencing whether a behavior is counted as boundary setting v. unprofessional or otherwise worthy of discussion and an expectation for correction?

If person A speaks out about actions or behaviors, or sets a boundary in which the actions/behaviors of another person are marked as prohibitive, how we qualify this behavior is driven by the context.

Let's say Person A is a Drill Sergeant in a military unit. Person B is a member of her unit. Person B violates a rule, or an ethic. The sergeant reprimands; a type of boundary setting. Person B is like....what?!? No way! and jumps chain of command to complain.

Both A and B are setting a boundary. B says "you don't have the right" while A was saying "you were out of line". In the context of military culture and protocol, B's behavior is generally the aberrant action.

Now let's put Person A as mid-management in an organization. Person B is on her team. Person A reprimands and gives a corrective performance review. Person B feels it is unjust and takes it up the food chain. In the corporate world, this is generally considered less aberrant than in the military context.

Now let's say Person A is a whistleblower. Speaks out about something he feels is inappropriate
behavior in an organization's structure (let's leave this super general). Person B is involved in the behaviors being called out by the whistle blowing - and feels unjustly called out and retaliates with boundary setting. Person A and associates are excluded from organizational events.

The context helps us decide what we support and determines which boundary is the viable one and which is poor form.  In Conflict Communication seminars we talk about how mores and environment drive culture. This is context. If the mores are permeable and change based on personality alliances the environment becomes perpetually unpredictable. Humans by evolutionary design seek a degree of predictability in their environment because it signals safety at the survival level.

If we take the perceived instability of a moment-by-moment organizational context and couple it with  the complexity of neurobiological responses to our prosocial evolutionary design, we get some pretty predictable neurobiology-driven responses to this unstable context. Okay - now let's pull back in the boundary setting question.

Prosocial neurobiological responses (to specific kinds of stimuli) +  unstable cultural context + intra-organizational boundary setting behaviors = one incredibly hot mess. The solution typically is to stabilize the culture by clarifying the mores as well as the environmental boundary. If the environment is not geographic but instead membership; then the mores also set the environmental borders as well.

Weirdly, if humans aren't involved in change there is no growth and without growth the organism begins to atrophy, i.e. it dies.

So while the organizational structure requires stabilization to survive and create intra-organziational coordination among the humans involved, if it becomes too stabilized...it dies.

No wonder we end up in wars and other somewhat less catastrophic tribal conflict! And even more a testimony to the resilience of the species.

1 comment: