Common Outlook Consulting Inc. New Perspectives
May 2015 - Issue # 15-05

Founder's Message

Even though you and I live in a modern society, we still belong to a tribe... or even numbers of tribes (a tribe being any group of people linked together by a common purpose).

In business that might mean aligning ourselves with colleagues on a team or in a department. Outside work, it may be about the kinship we develop with those who live in the same neighbourhood, village, or town, or with whom we share the same ethnicity, customs, or religion.

Belonging to a tribe is crucial to our development as human beings. It provides us with a sense of identity...a sense of who we are. It's an important part of how we understand the world and find our place in it. It's how we set ourselves apart and establish links with other cultures. And it's how we establish our thoughts, beliefs and positions in regard to... well, just about everything.

From time to time, we all feel the need to defend those positions/beliefs, and never more so than when we're involved in conflict. Especially if we're dealing with someone from a 'different' tribe and our sense of tribal affiliation and hidden cultural biases/attitudes are overly strong.

This month we're looking at how to manage those defenses; which is to say, how to recognize the signs of an identity-based/tribal conflict, and move past it.

If after reading the article, you're interested in understanding more about the cultural attitudes we all carry (and how we can unlearn them), we suggest you read Blindspot - The Hidden Biases of Good People, written by Mahzarin Banaji (Harvard) and Anthony Greenwald (University of Washington). You can even take a free test to determine those attitudes... you'll find the link at the end of the article.




"You are truly home only when you find your tribe.   
~ S. Srinivasan                         




When it gets down to it, we all belong to the same tribe. 


Coming Up  


The upside of conflict.  Sure, conflict is often unpleasant, but there's a silver lining too. Drop in next month when we explore that upside and how to maximize it. 




Managing Tribe-based Conflict                

At its core, a tribe is held together by the need for safety and well-being. Individually, each member has the same need... it's what draws us to this or that group. Adolescents feel the pull most keenly, for they are all too aware of the pitfalls of not belonging, and the sense of well-being that comes from feeling wanted and safe.

In order to be accepted into and fully belong to a tribe, we must take on and adhere to a tribe's beliefs. The tribe may have employed rational thinking in the construction of those beliefs, and individually, we may use rational thinking to justify them, but the beliefs are nevertheless built on that core need for safety and well-being.

When we're in conflict, beliefs and passions, pushed by our core concerns, become evident. The carefully constructed balance between rational thought and emotion shifts. We become defensive; we shift the argument into one about our stance or opinion on the subject, rather than staying with the issue that's on the table. In essence, we've begun to argue unconsciously about who we are and what 'our crowd' is about. Once that happens, we've positioned ourselves to see the person we're in conflict with as someone who doesn't belong: as the 'other'; the lesser... all of which makes it easy to dismiss their perspective.

Read more  


Peter Hiddema


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