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Re: [XP] Conversations between Equals (was Re: new article: Hearts as Weapons)

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  • Brian Schuth
    I do software development, and direct theatre. I ve gotten pretty good at both, despite being self-taught in both, and sometimes I take on the authoritative
    Message 1 of 201 , Sep 24, 2004
      I do software development, and direct theatre. I've gotten pretty good
      at both, despite being self-taught in both, and sometimes I take on the
      "authoritative" tone Brad spoke about.

      However, when you are trying to grow a process, or teach people, I find
      authority gets in the way. The problem is more obvious to me in
      theatre. Although a first-time actor may lack a lot of knowledge, they
      already have the raw material (their humanity, their knowledge of human
      behavior). Some people need no training to be excellent actors; some
      need constant attention. Taking on a superior or authoritative attitude
      often leads to actors being unwilling to take risks or experiment,
      because they are sure they will do it wrong. Either that, or they
      become sullen and difficult, unwilling to be told "what to do".
      Realistic acting is so similar to real life, yet different -- you need
      to be able to communicate openly to teach the distinctions.

      I find that a similar dynamic obtains when talking with junior
      programmers; authority either inspires rebellion or meekness. It
      doesn't foster communication. It's not so obvious in a technical
      situation because there is so much more *information* to absorb to be
      good, but I have definitely seen it.

      There are at least two places where authoritative tone works -- in panic
      or stressful situations, when the need for leadership trumps the need
      for full communication; and when someone *willingly* places themselves
      in a trusting student relationship. When you are in such a
      relationship, the teacher/authority can just tell you what to do, and
      you do it, trusting that the outcome will justify the subjugation to
      authority.

      My reading of Brad's email is that he is so open to entering a
      teacher/student relationship that he is willing to assume others are
      ready to enter into such a relationship with him as well. Ken's writing
      suggests that he rather less willing to step into such a relationship,
      certainly not in a mailing list. Negotiating these expectations about
      conversation that come into play BEFORE the conversation starts is a
      real challenge...

      bjs

      PS. There's an obvious place where authority is often used -- when
      teaching young people. This is part of the reason adults can hate it so
      much ("Don't treat me like your child!"); and its overuse with children
      creates child actors unable to try anything at all besides reading their
      lines, because no one has "told them how." But that's a separate rant... b
    • Dale Emery
      ... I ve written a short blog article about this: http://www.dhemery.com/cwd/2004/10/permission.html Dale -- Dale Emery, Consultant Collaborative Leadership
      Message 201 of 201 , Oct 17, 2004
        Earlier, I wrote:

        > One important principle I've learned is that teaching and
        > coaching require permission of the person being taught or
        > coached.

        I've written a short blog article about this:
        http://www.dhemery.com/cwd/2004/10/permission.html

        Dale

        --
        Dale Emery, Consultant
        Collaborative Leadership for Software People
        Web: http://www.dhemery.com
        Weblog: http://www.dhemery.com/cwd

        More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a
        crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness.
        The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom
        to choose correctly. --Woody Allen
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