Welcome to HEN - Transforming Conflict for our Health, Environment, Negotiation
HEN is published each month by Julia Menard:
Helping the Workplace Engage - One Tough Conversation at a Time! juliamenard.com
HEN arrives at the full moon -
because light transforms darkness.
Full Moon: May 21, 2016 - Year 14, Issue 5
Table of Contents:
1. HEALTH - Social Capital: The Value of People
I’m taking a new course with one of my favourite professors, Dr. Ron Faris, in my Masters in Educational Psychology program. The course is called “Place-based Learning Communities” and covers a wide range of topics related to how people learn and build community.
A key concept in his course is “social capital.” Social capital refers to the connections among individuals which allows trust and shared values to build, which in turn results in communities rich in social networks of reciprocity.
The OECD defines social capital as “networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate co-operation within or among groups”.
The term was popularized by sociologist Robert Putnam in his book Bowling Alone, where he argues that while some Americans have become wealthier, their sense of community and social capital has declined dramatically. He shows attendance decreases in social groups like bowling leagues, volunteering, eating family dinners together, etc.
The loss or increase of social capital is as important as any other kind of capital as it has been linked to benefits such as civic engagement and stronger democracies. In our society, a major source of growth also comes, not from physical objects, but from information. This has been named a knowledge economy and social capital is key for a healthy knowledge economy and the human capital it takes to enrich a knowledge economy.
Human capital is a person’s capabilities and education which is seen as an asset - just like a computer or a factory - which can also yield returns. A good supply of well-educated workers, or human capital, helps grow economies, according to the OECD.
Dr. Faris says social capital is the cradle of human capital, in that human capital arises out of a strong social capital.
Although using terms like “social and human capital” have been criticized by some as reducing humans to economic terms, there is also an advantage to translating humanist values into language those in power can understand.
In the language of work, in knowledge economies, we need workplaces and teams with high trust and shared values to be able to produce innovation and creativity.
What is the level of trust in your workplace and/or team? Do you see a relationship between trust levels and a spirit of creativity and innovation?
Would love to hear your thoughts!
"Community connectedness is not just about warm fuzzy tales of civic triumph. In measurable and well-documented ways, social capital makes an enormous difference in our lives ... Social capital makes us smarter, healthier, safer, richer, and better able to govern a just and stable democracy."
… Robert Putnam
2. ENVIRONMENT - Population and Women's Rights
In 1968, Paul Ehrlich and his wife wrote a controversial book called The Population Bomb which tied environmental issues to rising population figures. Although the book has been criticized for predicting impacts to happen in the 1980’s, it seems much of what they projected is starting to come true.
Just follow the numbers: In 1350, there were only 370 million people on the earth. Total. It took about 450 years for us to reach one billion people in 1804.
Then it took only 123 years to reach two billion in 1927.
Then it took only 33 years to reach three billion in 1960 and only 15 years to hit four billion in 1974.
As of March 2016, our population is estimated at 7.4 billion, and is projected to hit 10 billion within approximately 30 years.
What did the Ehrlichs recommend then or now?
Paul Ehrlich, in this talk makes a connection between population growth and women’s rights and education, since many sources have shown when women receive an education, they take charge of their reproduction and have less children.
As Malala.org says, funding women’s education is also critical to “ending child marriage and giving girls and women the confidence and knowledge to take part in the sustainable development of their communities and countries.”
So funding girls educational causes helps with population control, human rights and saving the environment!
Get out your chequebooks today! You can donate to the Malala fund here.
“Because of their agelong training in human relations - for that is what feminine intuition really is - women have a special contribution to make to any group enterprise. Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.”
… Margaret Mead
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3. NEGOTIATION - What's the Truth?
In my work as a mediator, the concept of perspectivism has often guided my work.
Perspectivism is the belief that the truth resides in pulling together perspectives to arrive at a more fulsome understanding of the truth. Much like the ancient Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said: “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
However, somewhere along the way, my belief in the validity of bringing together different perspectives to weave together a new narrative began to falter.
In one mediation, people were trying to get at the “T”ruth. What really happened? What can be learned? What can be done differently in the future? The parties eventually arrived at an awareness that they were all looking at the same facts, but making different interpretations about those facts.
In some ways, that is the beginning of a breakthrough. We all have filters with which we look upon the world. Our filters cause us to notice and favour certain information over other information. There is so much data floating around us underneath our conscious awareness, that it is easy to not even notice some key bits of information.
So, is “Truth” as a concept even valid? What is the truth?
There are certain acts I think are wrong. I don’t need more perspectives to understand that. Rape is wrong. Murder is wrong. Women not getting an education is wrong.
These, to me, are truths.
So can one party have all the truth - see it one way and it is the only way - as I indicate above? This is an important question as in conflict most people tend to blame the other and think we are right. Blaming, thinking we are right and knowing the absolute “T"ruth is what gets us stuck.”
It's not that simple. One definition of truth is "that which is in accordance with fact or reality. I may know reality or the facts - but if I imbue them with moralizing judgments that shame you, then I become part of the problem. As Krishnamurti said:
“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”
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Julia Menard, B.A., Cert. Con. Res., P.C.C.
Leadership & Conflict Coaching, Mediating, & Training