Mar 7, 2010

Sandpaper and fences

Got a text first thing this morning saying I am on standby to teach a class tomorrow.  (The instructor is in the middle of a family emergency and might not be able to make it.)  The class?  Diplomacy and Tact.

I got to thinking ... what do *I* know about diplomacy and tact?   

But as I muse on the subject, it's easy for people to jump to the two ditches.
1) Say everything that comes to mind with no editing and not consider what or how it's said or the possible effects.
2) Say nothing that comes to mind as to not offend and then no one ever knows what you're thinking or what you need.

I heard a story once about a school that was in the inner city.  They didn't have any room to build a regular playground so they built one on the roof.  They put a walled fence around the perimeter as to keep the kids safe (well within the specifications of the law).  But when the kids were allowed to play up there, they all huddled in the center, afraid to go to the sides.  They wouldn't play anywhere near the fence.  The administrators saw this and made revisions to the fence ... higher and more slats.  The next time the kids played out there, they played all the way to the edges.

They didn't feel safe until the boundaries are clearly marked.  Kids actually WANT boundaries.  They want to be shown what is right/wrong.

Today, we live in a society where the ONLY thing that is considered "Wrong" is ....  telling people there is a right/wrong.  We are supposed to let people make their own choices, make their own rules and live by their own moral code.  People who assert any kind of moral or Biblical or religious basis for their own beliefs are now being persecuted under "Hate Crimes".  

*Disclaimer:  Yes, Yes, Yes, I know that people have persecuted people in the name of basically every religion in the world and I think that is reprehensible.

So back to the class ... how am I supposed to teach a class about diplomacy and tact in this kind of society?  Ironically, I think it's back to the basics.  Back to teaching what works and what doesn't work. That if you say something without thinking first ... you might hurt someone's feelings.  If you say it in a certain tone, that might be taken in the wrong way.  Think before you speak.  Consider the other person's point of view.

People in this class tend to be a little "rough around the edges" I'm told.  And I guess I'm supposed to be the sandpaper to help smooth some of that out.

Smoothing comes via something abrasive.  How ironic.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm...I wonder how this will go tomorrow (if you teach)?

    Iron sharpening iron? Or not so much?

    Let us know what happens.