The Mistake In Learning Opportunity

There are many palm oil plantation employees who seem to interpret every action by management as a two-fingered gesture,
and there are many palm oil managers who react to employees in the same way. Most of the time it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, based on the expectation of the response - an expectation conditioned by attitudes which may be quite erroneous, but which seem to 'prove' themselves whenever the reaction is repeated. it's a bit like the 'when did you stop beating your wife?' question. If you expect people to be bloody-minded and approach them accordingly, they are almost bound to respond in the way you expect, because you haven't given them much option.

Feeling bad about other people is usually a reflection of feeling bad about ourselves. We begin to learn our own sense of worth from our earliest contacts with parents, guardians, neighbors, friends, teachers - anybody we come in contact with - depending n how they behave towards us. At the same time, we establish feelings about them as individuals, which become generalized as feelings towards 'people'.

In 1970 an American psychiatrist, Thomas A. Harris, wrote a best seller on this theme. It was called The Book of Choice, but has since been published as I'm OK-you're OK. He was no transcendental west-coast 'shrink', but spent most of his career in the hard reality of the US navy, where objectives had to be achieved - and usually in a hurry.

Using his work, it is possible to indentify and map out the position from which we view life, based on the image we have of ourselves and others acquired through childhood learning.

Which remark from the figure do you use when a mistake is made by your subordinates? Your children? Your partner? Your garage mechanic? Managers with the life position 'you're OK - I'm OK' feel good about themselves and about their subordinates. As a result, a mistake is a learning opportunity which does not threaten but develops the palm oil plantation employee and cements the relationship for the figure.

The 'I'm OK - you're not OK' manager has a good opinion about his or her own abilities, but tends to build up his/her image by putting other people down. this manager's subordinates are unlikely to admit mistakes in this relationship and will certainly never learn and develop as a result of them. Mistrust becomes mutual and when the subordinate tries to hide a mistake, or corrects it ineffectively without guidance, it will reinforce the manager's attitude that the subordinate is not good.

The good news from Thomas A. Harris is that once we are aware of all this, we can change it. We don't have to be locked into our early learning - it was learnt and so can be unlearnt if we recognize it and want to do something about it.
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