ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The stifling of free speech

The latest in the scary news about how free speech is being stifled in the classroom is the articles that show that students who did not participate in the gun-control walkout last week are being punished. 

WOW  Only one point of view is “the right one” it seems.  What have we done to allow our teachers and administrators to force their students into one box, one mold, one point of view?\

I’m scared.  I’m horrified.  It doesn’t matter what I believe about the particular issue – whether, for example I am for – or against gun control.  What matters here is that we are forcing our students to embrace only one point of view. 

There are two side-by-side headlines in today’s San Jose Mercury News that motivated me to write this blog.
1.     School-walkout unity also lays bare division among students. 

2.     Student punished for staying in classroom during walkout at center of controversy.

Dissent should have been encouraged.  Instead of walk-outs perhaps debates with strong opinions from both sides.

It’s not just about gun-control,

This whole notion of micro-aggression and safe-spaces on college campuses is just euphemisms for the same stifling of ideas.  Only one point of view is allowed.  All others are acts of aggression.  Do you really believe that? 

Please for the sake of all of us – let’s bring back free speech.  Let’s return to a nation that honors disparate points of view – not one that stifles them.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Zero Tolerance is a Mistake

Once you state that your policy is “zero tolerance” you are forced to fire or expel anyone who behaves in the way you have defined as unacceptable.  

You might recall the case of the little boy in kindergarten who kissed a little girl on the cheek and was expelled because of the school’s sexual harassment policy.  A kindergarten little boy – sexual harassment – really? 

Or the case of a child inadvertently taking his mother’s lunch bag.  She discovered the mistake shortly after he left for school and called the school explaining the mistake.  BUT, since Mother had a paring knife and an apple in the bag, her son was expelled for carrying a weapon. 

Zero Tolerance sounds good – but what happens to a valuable member of a club when he tells an off-color joke?  Should he be expelled from the club.  That is what zero tolerance demands.  Is that really what you want? 

It seems to me that what you want is to stop inappropriate behavior.  The dirty-joke teller needs to be counseled never to do it again.  If it is repeated he needs to have some sanctions, possibly a suspension or a fine – but expelling a valuable member of the club from the club is too harsh. 

Now, I hasten to add – I am not talking about sexual abuse.  I’m talking about minor infractions such as “dirty words” or off-color jokes.  Anyone that physically harms another person doesn’t deserve to be in my club.

Ayn Rand often said:  “My rights end at the bridge of your nose.”  I like that quote

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

"Tweaking" Small but powerful changes

Are you tired of hiring consultants who spend dozens of hours and thousands of your dollars analyzing a problem and offering grandiose and impossible to achieve solutions?

That’s the complaint I hear frequently from prospective clients.  Apparently, their hard earned money goes towards detailed, comprehensive reports that really don’t offer much practical help.

My consulting is different.  I work directly with your staff to “tweak” processes that could be simplified and could save time and money.  Together we problem-solve – they know what they know and I get to add my knowledge and experience to the mix.  Change – or should I say many changes – occur in short order that is useful and time and cost saving. 


Just one example:  When I was consulting to the City of San Carlos the hundred minor changes we made took them from conflict with their citizens to rewards for being customer service focused.  They won many awards as a result of the problem-solving workshops we conducted.
Call me and I can give you examples of what we accomplished.  The small tweaks that made major changes.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2018

I didn't do it

I didn’t do it!

What do you do if you have been falsely accused of harassing someone in the workplace?  That’s a question I’ve been asked a great deal lately.  Hopefully, this will never happen to you, but if it does…

  • ·       Remember that you have the legal right to due process.  That means to face your accuser, to learn the charges against you and to receive enough information to be able to defend yourself.  That includes, who, what, when, why and where.
  • ·       Unfortunately, all too often the people doing the investigations in the workplace think that they are protecting the accuser (alleged victim) by not giving the alleged harasser/abuser the name or details of the allegation.  I think this is wrong.
  • ·       If the accusation rises to the level of criminal behavior – such as grabbing, physically abusing or raping another person – get thee to an attorney fast.
  • ·       If the accusation is of the milder annoying and insulting kind – demand an open and neutral investigation.  That is assuming you are innocent.
  • ·       Most investigations, trying to be neutral wind up being biased in favor of one side or the other.  That’s because we all have natural biases.  (see my book:  Conducting Workplace Investigations:  Designated Investigator, Robertson Publishing Com.)  Investigators need to learn their own biases and how to get out of the way of them.
  • ·       If you are innocent, the openness of the investigation will lend credence to your claims of innocence.  Otherwise, once accused you will have a very hard time being believed when you say I am innocent.
  • ·       If you are not receiving a neutral – open – and unbiased investigation, you might consider going up your organization chain of command to find someone who will help guarantee that your investigation is as it should be.

Most claims are probably true.  But in today’s climate, it stands to reason that there will be women (and some men) wo falsely accuse because they want publicity, money or both.  There are some attorneys who are determined to make fame and fortune out of bringing so-called victims forward.
  • ·       We need to carefully separate out credible claims, ones that have facts and proof that make them logical and believable from those that can’t be proven.
  • ·       If a claim is a he said/she said about something that happened years ago, it might be exceedingly difficult to prove or disprove.  (That is probably why, in the Bill Cosby case the prosecution is trying to have a number of alleged victims testify.)
  • ·       Yes, the #metoo movement is creating a powerfully positive message – no more will women, girls and some men and boys allow themselves to be victimized.  They will shout NO and come forward to complain – and we will listen.  Me must honor the positive aspects of the movement.

·       But, it does also lend itself to bringing out the people who just want to get something for nothing – both in the workplace and elsewhere.
This is a tightrope we are currently walking – between believing the alleged victim and giving the alleged perpetrator due process.

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Friday, March 02, 2018

Cursory training not good enough

Until recently many companies found the cheapest on-line two hour training  they could buy and brushed off their hands happily feeling that they had met the requirement for prevention of sexual harassment.   Well, yes they met the legal minimum bur all the research coming out lately is showing that this type of training doesn't change attitudes or behavior.

It takes a very interactive type of training with lots of examples and give and take conversationally to change minds, hearts and attitudes.  Until those change behavior will no change.

Men and women react differently to similar situations.  People from different cultures have different standards of behavior.  We need to lean about each other - not merely be told about all the lawsuits for misbehavior.

Most of us - men and women - want to do the right thing.  Some of what we do though is not perceived as right by the other person.  WHY?  Why aren't they more like me?   Answer because they were taught differently.

Let's learn from each other so that we don't inadvertently hurt or insult the other person..

and yes, there are jerks and bullies and people who just plain like to make others squirm so that they can feel more important.  We need to stop these bullies force ably.  We need to role-model appropriate behavior.  We need to stand up for those more vulnerable than we.  We need to teach young women and men that they can and should say NO loudly and when they report abuse they will be taken seriously.

This is no matter to pay lip service to.  We must really take the time to help people learn how to behave with each other.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

The sanitizing of America

Between complaints of micro-aggression and complaints of harassment we are demanding that everyone behave perfectly at all times, and never say or do anything that might hurt the feelings of another person.  We are sanitizing our behaviors, words and even to some extent our thoughts.  No political disagreement possible.

This frightens me.  I strongly concur that we need to stop bullying, abusing and taking advantage of  people who are more vulnerable than those who aggress agains them.

But to have someone lose their job because they made an inappropriate remark?

To have someone sanctioned because they had a thought that disagreed with the more popular points of view?

These demands are creating something much worse than THE NANNY STATE - they are crating what Ayn Rand described so vividly in her book ANTHEM.  WE ARE SANITIZING AMERICA


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Is our compassion killing us?

Imagine that  your uncle came to visit and announced that he was out of a job and a place to live.  He asked for your help for a short amount of time.  Of course you said YES and offered him your guest bedroom.  A few days later his wife and three minor children came - and they too moved in with you and your family.  A week or so later his parents and his wife's parents and their other adult siblings came to live with you too.  None of them worked.  None of them contributed to the household and you were now going broke, not able to take proper care of your own immediate family.

Compassion is a great thing.  It would be wonderful if more people had it.  BUT isn't your responsibility primarily to your own family?  Isn't there a time when you have to kick out all these freeloaders?  It's hard.  Some of them are children.  Some might be disabled.  Yes, it would be incredible if you could take care of them all - and all the others that will follow.

Isn't that what is happening here in California - and elsewhere in the country?

Isn't it true that the more we help people the less they do for themselves?  Isn't it true that the more word gets out about our generosity the more people will and do land on our doorsteps?

How do we change it?  How do we help those really needing our help without encouraging those who probably could work to live "off the dole" as they say in Great Britain. 

How do we stop the influx of those wanting our largess without being cruel?

That is the problem we currently face.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Does sexual harassment training reduce incidents of harassment?

Does sexual harassment training
reduce incidents of harassment?

Since 2005, California employers have been required to conduct a minimum of two hours training in preventing sexual harassment and discrimination for companies with more than 50 employees..  Now, prevention of bullying is mandated to be added to that training. 

Does it do any good?  Some research suggests no it doesn’t.

BUT, which training are they using as their study group?  Is it the typical on-line training conducted by attorneys who share facts and figures and offer scare tactics?  If so, I’d bet it doesn’t make any social or behavioral changes. 

Years ago there was a significant body of research conducted to find out if psycho-therapy worked.  In general the finding was that there was no significant change in the thoughts and behaviors of those receiving therapy.   This was when all therapists were lumped together.  However, there was significant positive change in those clients/patients that were treated by therapists considered to be outstanding by their peers. 

In other words, great therapists produce great results.  Mediocre therapists produce mediocre results – or none that is discernable at all.

I offer you the same theory when evaluating the effectiveness of sexual harassment training.  Who is conducting the training?  What is their background in the ability to communicate in a manner that is effective in changing beliefs and behaviors?  How is the training being conducted?  Is it an on-line education type training – in which case there is no possible interaction or role-playing – or is it a face-to-face training allowing for discussion, questions and new learning to actually take place? 

There is nothing more valuable than face-to-face training conducted by someone who knows how to draw people out, offer examples that resonate with them, and really effect change.

Yes, on-line training saves money.  I too have created on line trainings for Illumeo and Lorman.  They are good because I rely more on examples than statistics or scare tactics, but they are not half as good as my face-to-face training. 

So, do you want to just be in compliance with the law, or do you want to really get your people to understand and accept how certain behaviors are perceived by others. 

You get to decide.  BUT, if as the research shows, on-line training isn’t very effective are you saving pennies but run the risk of losing millions in law-suits?

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