Feedback and Favoring Truth

May 19, 2011 Leave a comment

“Our ability to live in reality is essential.

But that takes some training.”

-Robert Fritz

If you have followed this blog in the past week and a half, you know that the IISC staff completed an intense and valuable retreat last week, focused on issues of power and privilege as they manifest in our organization and connect to the ways that we show up and are perceived in the world beyond our walls.  Last time I blogged about this event, I mentioned my take-away about the challenge and importance of embracing paradox.  With a week’s worth of time now to reflect, I am happy to report that the conversation continues internally among staff, and I for one am seeing movement.   There is plenty of dialogue about how to keep the momentum going, to maintain and firm up our hold on the individual and collective truths we accessed last week.

It turns out that one commonly shared insight about staying on track was, drum roll please . . . to practice more of what we preach! There are shared practices that we do embrace internally, and others that need some dusting off and more diligence with respect to consistent application, all in the spirit of creating the conditions that bring out the best in everyone amidst the structural embeddedness of privilege at IISC, both uniquely and as a microcosm of the larger systems of which we are a part.  For example, it has been reflected that we would benefit from strengthening our feedback muscle (see slide show above).  Perhaps like many organizations, we can fall into an overall culture of politeness and conflict avoidance that cheats us of learning and an opportunity to live more fully in our current reality.  As I’ve discovered in certain interpersonal relationships, the extent to which we can favor skillfully telling the full truth of our experiences with one another, the more we can evolve as individuals and systems.

I’ve also learned that giving feedback without appropriate contextual analysis and expectations is a set up.  This may be especially true in the context of structural inequities.  I know there is more learning for me around this, especially as a white man.  The change starts within.  I can say that my commitment is first to deeper noticing, of the complexities and interplay of personal, interpersonal, and structural dynamics, to listening to others’ truths, and to challenge myself to push through impulsive tendencies to hold back or jump in when either stands in the way of real movement.  So in keeping with the spirit, I welcome and receive your feedback . . .

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