Virtues and Sins Part 2: Patience vs. Wrath

Have you ever felt impatient? Full of wrath, not knowing how to calm down or how to relax? Letting off steam in a proper manner e.g. through regular physical activities is good for anyone´s health, but if and when we do exercise wrath in maliscious ways, we end up harming not only others around us but most of all ourselves. Do you agree?

Having the gift of the tongue may be helpful in some situations, but playing a smart aleck can sometimes turn against you. Therefore, patience and the ability of listening, truly attentive listening often brings one further and enhances the birth of a true dialogue.

Then, what is a dialogue? And how is it related to patience and wrath? Simple questions, non?

A few years ago I had the privilege of attending a class held by Shawn Spano, Ph.D., about communication and dialogue at SJSU in Silicon Valley. According to Spano, there are many different approaches to dialogue. As an example, he used a unique form of human communication relating it to the social construction theory.

“Communication is the process through which we collectively create our social worlds. Rather than see communication as a neutral vehicle for transmitting information from one person to another, social construction treats communication as a primary activity, one that not only reflects meaning but shapes it as well”.

Seen from this perspective, everything comprising our social worlds (emotions, personalities, relationships, beliefs, attitudes, identities etc.) are being created in patterns of communication.

Social construction in key words:

– Individuals co-construct their social worlds through communication processes

– Communication is a process of action, not only transmission of information

– To widen the boundaries of people´s social worlds, there is a need to create communication bridges in-between these.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ARGUMENT AND DIALOGUE:

In Argument we…:

  • Try to win
  • Compete for speaking time
  • Speak for others
  • Create a potentially threatening and uncomfortable environment
  • Take sides with others
  • Polarize ourselves from those with whom we disagree
  • Feel unswerving commitment to a point of view
  • Ask questions to make a point or put the other person down
  • Make predictable statements
  • Make simplistic statements
  • COMPETE

In dialogue, we…:

  • Try to understand
  • Value listening
  • Speak from personal experience
  • Create an atmosphere of safety
  • Discover differences even among those with whom we agree
  • Discover shared concerns between ourselves and others
  • Discover our uncertainties as well as deeply held beliefs
  • Ask questions out of true curiosity and the desire to know more
  • Discover significant new things
  • Explore the complexity of the issues being discussed
  • COLLABORATE

(Source: http://www.publicconversations.org)

Once again: what has this got to do with patience and wrath?

Just about everything, since we all have the ability of constructing our social worlds through our means of communication. Communication and dialogue are at the core of every individual´s and organization´s success, but still, more often than not, undervalued.

Through the development of communication and dialogue we can all become successful at what we do, both in business and private.

For more information, feel free to contact me and to comment my posts. I love being in dialogue with people.

Seven Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins Part I: Charity vs. Greed

According to cognitive psychologist George Miller´s theory from 1956, most adults have a short-term memory capacity of five to nine items, which makes number 7 magic (plus or minus two). Perhaps this is also one of the reasons for the classical seven virtues and seven deadly sins? People, on the average, have such a restricted short term memory that virtues and sins are easily mixed up? The truth must be much more complicated than this. I doubt that any human being is capable of explaining the complexity behind humanity in one simple sentence.

What are the seven virtues and the seven deadly sins? I wanted to discuss these in depth since the establishment of my leadership blog. It´s not that I would exactly be reinventing the wheel, since these were identified and discussed already by the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato. Some things remain shooting stars, while others are always actual and important.

With Christmas approaching, charity and greed are probably the most relevant two to be discussed. We have yet another greedy (?) year almost behind us, whereby firms are soon about to close their books and in January, about to announce their fourth quarter results to shareholders and stakeholders. On the other hand, numerous organizations and NGO´s worldwide take action in order to collect money for various groups with one thing in common: the need of support and financial aid.

But what is greed exactly? Greed is a desire to possess, materialism of abstract value with a selfish intention, on a high level beyond the dictates of basic human needs such as shelter and food. It can also be interpreted as to having a high desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power. Wikipedia´s explanation includes the fact that greed is “an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs”. Could it be explained more simply?

The negative aspect of greed is to deprive others of potential means, perhaps including  basic survival and comfort or future opportunities accordingly.

Charity, on the other hand, is giving alms, benevolence or generosity, being human and helping others without expecting anything in return. It is foremost helping those in need, but also helping and giving people around you (anyone), without expecting anything in return.

Unfortunately, the world is not equal, in many ways. There is nothing wrong with being successful and making money, but greediness is different. Charity is to help others with legally earned money and generated wealth. If, however, wealth has been earned in unethical ways, it is questionable how ethically and morally right it is to help others through illegal earnings.

Luckily, a large part of charity is generated through legal means.