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Learning is hard II

Writing about learning last time, I was taken by some of the reactions. Most confirmed that, yes it is hard – not automatic.

The test for learning is change. If the subject learned a new practice, a new skill, a new approach, the question is – can they do it?

Most are unwilling to embarrass themselves by showing themselves awkward with demonstrating something they have either read about or been shown. The tendency increases with age and status. The young and adventurous have no reluctance to try new tricks out, they’re all over it. But older dogs have less appetite for looking – what? Foolish?   If a new ability is put out there, chances are it will not come off slick the first try. And if in an exposed environment where adverse comment is a potential, well, I might just give it a pass. If there is a controlled [safe] situation where the new tool can be given a test drive without life and death consequences – like loss of face – maybe I’d risk it.

I don’t know about how the female culture is with attempts like this: I understand they can be quite cutting. But the male way of keeping the lads in line has an interesting French name, badinage.

That’s French for the “funny”, snippy, deniable, cut him down to size comments that men make whenever one wants to try something a little odd, different or a touch out of the very narrow acceptable caricatures’ that pass as personality. Zingers, backchat, all very “innocent” – boyish fun!!

Example? One guy in an intact work group reluctantly responds to a speaker’s call for a volunteer to try a technique in interviewing. Surprise? He doesn’t ace it first try. A wise-cracker waits until the perfect moment. “Good thing Al isn’t trying this at the office!” Wry “chuckles” from the male gathering. “Good natured” aw shucks from the victim – the only acceptable response unless Al can come up with something sharper as a comeback. But you can bet Al won’t be trying this again anytime soon. Another learning window closes.

Keeps men in a very squished place for those who allow it. Some seem to have a natural ability to stick-handle away from the check. Others don’t let on – they can’t – how confining and hurtful those comments can be – usually prized for the precision of their skewering and timed for maximum embarrassment.

But enough about that – I’ll have all sorts of guys protesting that it’s just good clean fun.

The best groups declare that for what it is – anti-learning put down, and keep it out of bounds. Watch for it – it’s everywhere.

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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