Models and Paradigms

Look out for the next best thing.  Chances are it’s the same horse we’ve ridden before with a new saddle. It might look different, but the horse still puts out the same byproduct.

In education, psychology and what is reported about how government functions, it seems the horse we ride in on gets a new outfit every few years or so.  In business, finance or the sciences, I suspect it’s not a whole lot different.

Recently I talked with a professional who worked with students in an internship setting. One of the students she worked with was tech savvy, had good technical ability when it came to moving information, but lacked social skills. While youth are entitled to the occasional misstep, engaging in social interactions with many different players, with various agendas is complex. We teach everything else, but rarely how to get along with others.

As one example, teacher training over the years has emphasized competence in subject matter. This has become especially important as high stakes testing raises the bar. But competence in subject matter does not necessarily translate to interpersonal proficiency. Rarely have I seen courses in developmental psychology, the psychology of individual differences or any other social skills training required. We ARE working with people after all.

So, we change how we do things and come up with a “new model.”  The problem is in this culture, we don’t give one model enough time to work. Vast amounts of money are spent to implement “new strategies”. Everyone is entitled to their “epiphany”, but frequently what is “new” is not really so much.

This issue of interpersonal proficiency is not just confined to the world of psychology and education. How many times have you talked with a family member, friend or colleague who has struggled with a boss, co-worker or subordinate in a work environment? While there can be differences of opinion on how to accomplish goals, the process of negotiation may be just as important to actual goal attainment as the objective itself. Countless are the times where the person looks good on paper, but can’t figure out how to move people from point A to point B.  

So when the white knight comes in on that freshly groomed mount, look closely at its teeth. Bet that nags been here before.

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