Thursday, March 1, 2007

Pecking Orders

They exist. We all know it, see it, feel it. It happens between friends, family, co-workers, community members, and so on. Here's an example.

I was talking yesterday about this code I've been asked to change and the quandary I was in regarding which direction to take. Well, I chose to scale it back a bit and create something that would fit the application better. It was still a very new concept for this app and this company.

So I called Elaine and asked her to look at the design. She was "concerned" about the design and then called Chris, (the VP of software development) over to look at it. He liked the idea but felt it wasn't going to work with what he had in mind.

So the three of us then went to his office to go over the design. I put up ideas (very outside-of-the-box) ideas that in my mind would provide immense flexibility and functionality for the user while the other two shot down my ideas with typical "we don't do things that way... our users won't understand these ideas" responses. I was dauntless with my efforts, none-the-less, and continued to proffer options.

Something happened while I was there. I was watching Chris and Elaine interact and it became quite clear that even though Chris is the VP, Elaine calls the shots. He knew how he wanted to see the app change and Elaine knew how she wanted to see it change. As I watched the interaction from a third-person perspective among us all, I saw the pecking order. My ideas were put on the shelf because I'm "the new guy" and not in a position where anyone has seen my true abilities shine yet. Not sure they will if I don't get the opportunity to show off, though. At any rate, when Chris finally gave in, the meeting was over. There was no, "well, maybe we could incorporate this idea with this." There were no compromises offered. There were no considerations for the thought and effort put in by myself or Chris. It was simply, "well, that's done... everyone agrees with Elaine so no problem."

Knowing this provides for some interesting potential. She's the one I need to impress or replace, even though everyone else is technically at a higher position. She's the one they all look to for approval... she's the mother hen there.

Why do people relent to another after a certain period of time? What are their reasons? Everyone has their reasons, I suppose. There are those I relent to and there are those that relent to me. Sometimes these relationships change based on the circumstances... sometimes they change for selfish reasons, sometimes they change as a result of a newfound respect or admiration, there are lots of possibilities. But the orders exist and those who go against the order become targets... either targets of scorn, targets of pity or targets of leadership.

Why do these orders exist? They're simply another way we class ourselves. But in truth, no one person is any greater than another. No one person is any less important than another (or any more important). We have the option in life to either provide and produce in ways that promote community, togetherness and unity... or we can create division, hierarchy, rules and regulations, and control. There's a third option too... but most people don't see that or figure it out... it lies between the two.

Both sides have compelling reasons for existing. Both believe their way to be the right way and usually have the best in mind for themselves and others. It becomes a matter of perception. Is this person attempting to control me, dominate me, rule me... or are they trying to communicate with me, unite with me in a common cause and provide for the common good for us all. The perception is always colored by experiences. These experiences include conversations, intimacy, joint efforts at a common task, competition for a sought goal.

In the end, it's really just a matter of interpretations and perceptions and how we interact with those interpretations. One way that can be beneficial is to learn how someone communicates ideas. What does this mean? Knowing what they respect. Some people respect strength while others regard it as being a bully. Some people respect gentleness while others regard it as being weak. Some people respect an easy-going attitude while others regard it as laziness. Some people respect a focused and relentless drive while others regard it as selfishness. Once you understand what someone respects and responds to, you can communicate effectively with them your intentions, desires, needs, wants, etc. You will discover whether or not they are agreeable with your ideas and from there you can choose to either move forward together... or move forward apart.

How do I handle these things? How do I handle pecking orders? What do I respect and how do I communicate? If you haven't figured that out by now, you don't know me very well. And if you think this entry is directed solely at you... you definitely don't know me very well and are just thinking of yourself. Read it again and you might figure it out.


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