Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Office Politics Part I

I was chatting with a friend last night and she suggested we do complimentary blogging on Office Politics." I suspect her approach will be very insightful for me - since she is a positive and outgoing kind of person and is a lot more successful than I am in dealing with Office Politics. See

Definition of the Problem: Part I

On a personal level, I have always struggled with being able to maintain my own integrity while playing well with and bending to the perceptions of others. I also have difficulty with making an ASS of myself by jumping to conclusions, not reading e-mails completely, and not giving folks the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, I am rarely deceived by people. I seem to notice their failings long before others do. I am also an introvert, so it goes strongly against my nature to socialize just for the sake of climbing the office ladder by spending time with people I don't particularly like. That doesn't mean I don't socialize; I just limit it to the folks that I respect and appreciate and who most likely respect and appreciate me. It's not because I think I am better than anyone else, I just don't like exposing myself when I don't have to. I am what is called an amiable driver, so I am goal oriented and push hard, but I'm nice about it.

You'll find "positive" approaches to politics in tomes such as "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie and The Art and Science of Negotiation by Howard Raiffa , or more "cynical" approaches in The Art of War by Sun Tzu or The Prince by Machiavelli.

The positive approach doesn't spend much time on how to resolve moral dilemmas resulting from acting "as if." There is very little advice on how to deal with unproductive people a la Peter Principle. And there is little acknowledgement of negativity at all. Practicing this approach leaves me feeling fake and disingenuous. I vacillate between disgust and envy at some people's ability to wield this approach successfully.

The cynical approach is more pragmatic. It suggests that you do what needs to get done to accomplish your goals: the ends justifies the means or the contribution to the greater good justifies the exploitation or suppression of the individual.

I take more naturally to the cynical approach up until it involves manipulation, lying to others,
distorting the truth. In other words I am wary, questioning, and allow others to earn my trust.
The positive approach by acts of omission can result in the same. It focuses on what I can do to influence others to do what I want or to see things my way.

Two things before I start thrashing out a middle road:

1. Research has show that Depressive (Negative) people have a better perception of their own limits and of reality

2. Research has shown that positive reinforcement is more productive than negative reinforcement

(I really don't feel like looking up the sources for this - but please feel free to investigate on your own)

The trick is to blend these together without losing an honest sense of self and attaining a positive approach to dealing with office politics. I am hoping to develop an approach that will work for me.

Definition of the Problem: Part II

Oh dear! I've come all this way and forgotten to define Office Politics. How funny! Guess I better do that first.

1. Trying to present yourself or a problem in the best possible light, even though there are serious issues. In other words, SPIN.

2. Avoiding blame for any issue for which one is responsible

3. Pleasing the people in power by telling them what they want to hear

4. Desire for or maintenance of authority that exceeds one's ability

5. Seeking greater influence over those in authority for personal gain or gratification

6. Taking credit for other people's work

7. Use of non work related abilities to gain favor: ability to party, snob, and other un-mentionables

The impact of self serving political behavior creates a lot of stress on hardworking folks that are doing their job well and mostly don't engage in Office Politics. They end up picking up the loose ends, putting in extra effort to meet unreasonable deadlines, and scrambling to make things work after the fact. Unfortunately, this response ends up enabling these political beings' self serving behavior and does nothing to discourage it.

To be continued tomorrow..... I won't read Jeri's post until I finish.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Will Judgement Day be Like?

These are my beliefs - I don't expect anyone to share them. I think that all religions have given us clues on what will happen when we die. Unfortunately the wording is often cryptic and not easily understood. Examples include: the veil will be lifted, The light of truth will shine, all will come to understand, all will become part of the one, the wheat will be separated from the chaff, etc. I believe these statements explain both heaven and hell in one fell swoop.

Imagine you have just died. Often times we hear that people see their lives pass before their eyes. Those that experience this and don't die, find that their world view is fundamentally changed. Why? Perhaps they have had a partial experience of what it is we will experience when we die. I believe that when we die, that indeed the veil will be lifted - for everyone. At that point we will no longer be burdened by our biases, fears, and other chaff. We will see our behaviours in light of the truth - it will become obvious whom we have hurt, how we have impeded the growth of others and chosen paths that were self destructive. I believe this will be an intense experience and we will all be overwhelmed by the depth of our own faults. I believe this is being held under the blinding light of the truth. I can't conceive of anything more hellish than being completely exposed and having all my false pretenses ripped from me.

But there is also good news here, the wheat is separated from the chaff - we lose those parts of our self that are false, and we become one with God. So while we regret and feel ashamed of our failures in the light of God - we find that we still exist and are brought into oneness with the source of love and truth. We neither lose what we are, because we have always been part of the one, but now we are a conscious part of the whole.

I believe that the core truths of religion are those that help us separate our wheat from our chaff, help us become more like God while we pass through the journey of life, and lessen the distance or separation between our embodied and spiritual state. I believe our separation from the whole is intended to be a learning experience for us all, and that we will understand that purpose when we are reunited. Our need for one another and fellowship is a natural result of a longing for the state from which we came, and our longing to create the same state while on earth.

I believe anything else, tenets, creeds, beyond these fundamentals are man made and result in more harm than good. Anything that causes us to focus on the path of others rather than our own has a very high potential to divert us from the truth.

Many of our most insightful prophets, bodhivisttas, and messiahs have warned us of the wolves in sheep clothing: those that have all the appearances of being righteous but are rotten to the core. These are the people that claim they have the exclusive rights to the truth, feel free in harming others in the name of the truth, and exploit the fears and doubts of others to gain power and self esteem. These are the people whose experience upon death will be the most disconcerting because they have built their houses upon foundations of sand. People who willing abdicate responsibility for their journey by allowing someone to do their thinking for them will also be surprised that they wasted the opportunity to learn something from the journey and will bring little to the table to enrich the whole. I believe there will be a lot of surprised people.

What will the heaven be? How about: all of our wounds being healed, heart felt reconciliation with others, and the giving and receiving of true forgiveness for what we did or failed to do while we were alive, the leaving behind of the imperfections and pains of our physical being. Sounds just absolutely wonderful to me.

Lets talk about “Special Rights”

Given the events in Anchorage over the past week concerning the attempt to grant gay, lesbian and transgender people equal protection under the law in housing and employment, I find my self compelled to speak out against the slogans being used by fundamentalist Christians in efforts to defeat this legislation. Their belief that there is a gay agenda and that gays are pushing for Special Rights is just absolutely ludicrous.

Here's a short list of what I would categorize as Special Rights. My definition of Special Rights is simple: benefits or protections which all members of society do not share in equal measure.

  • Churches not paying income or property taxes
  • Church members being able to deduct their tithing as charitable contributions
  • Deductions for each child on federal taxes
  • 13 years of education for children subsidized by businesses and single people’s property taxes
  • The right to live where you wish and work where you wish regardless of your religious affiliation
  • Subsidized children services by both state and federal agencies.
  • PFDs for each Alaskan child - which the parents can spend without the child’s consent and not necessarily to the child's direct benefit

I’m not going to argue whether society benefits from subsidizing children. But at the very least, the fact that it is given for free, should be appreciated and cherished by those that receive it. And this is a Special Right.

The non taxation of the churches was spelled out by our forefathers to prevent the interference of the government in the livelihood of churches. In the old countries, governments too often used taxation to control and persecute churches and church members by making it hard for them to gather together and promote their beliefs. This is called separation of church and state. This is a Special Right.

The deductions for tithing, I don’t really understand. Why should money that you give to support services that you mostly benefit from, be tax deductible: Church schools, buildings, staff, recreation halls, gyms, camps, parking lots, adornments, etc. After all these things are paid for, maybe there is something given to those in need. This is a Special Right.

This summary just scratches the surface of all the special rights and or benefits that heterosexual families and churches benefit from that are not shared by all members of society equally. Throwing around the term “Special Right” is just “Especially Wrong.”

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Politicians Escaping Justice?

In the past year we had three Alaskan politicians receive guilty verdicts on corruption charges. In the past 4 months, all charges and sentences have been overturned and the prisoners released. In each case, this resulted from the prosecutorial team withholding evidence from the defense.

Doesn't this seem coincidental ? It's pretty clear that these politicians strayed over the line of what is legally permitted and even more clear that they strayed over the line ethically regardless of whether it was legally actionable.

I am starting to think that these errors on the part of the prosecution teams were not just mistakes - but calculated, with exactly this result in mind. Lets look at it this way...
  • the powers that be can say they are tough on corruption
  • the Republican party can use this as evidence that they are being unfairly targeted
  • the vindicated politicians can use this to revitalize their base and get re-elected
I would really like to see this investigated. Either there is something going on or we have a really badly damaged prosecutorial system that needs to be repaired.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What Do We Need to Change?

Although I am very aware of the complexities involved in human behavior, I believe there are a few very strong and pervasive symptoms that can help us tune into the causal chain of disagreeable human behavior such as greed, power seeking, blame, and abuse.

These symptoms can be seen as overcompensation for not getting or fear of not getting our basic needs met. Among these needs are: adequate shelter, security, and nutrition, positive sense of self, sense of belonging, companionship, sense of meaning, and love.

From an economist's perspective, people's behavior, could be explained as a result of a scarcity. There is not enough to go around, so we must compete. If we can't get enough of one thing we compensate by accumulating more than we need of something else. In an economic world we would use this over accumulation to trade for something we lack. Unfortunately, the only needs that can be traded for are food, shelter, and to some extent, security. Most intangible needs are met through the goodwill and generosity of others, equitable adult relationships, and through individual mastery in relationship to others and the environment.

These intangible needs are given or provided to us by others starting at birth. The extent to which parents lay a good foundation for their children, determines whether the child is able to meet his or her own needs as they mature. If children's needs are not met, their ability to successfully integrate and participate in society as adults is hampered. This results in a life long deficit, manifested by controlling behavior, low self esteem, and the inability to socialize and interact appropriately with others on a meaningful level. These behaviors act as a barrier to need fulfillment, thus reinforcing or enlarging the deficits in these areas. Since man is a social animal, an individual's deficit impoverishes society.

People can overcompensate for a deficit in many ways:

  • striving in unproductive ways: over accumulation of goods, pursuit of power over others, attention seeking...
  • expressing or acting out anger through abuse, blame, or denying the needs of others.

When individuals suffering from deficits gather in groups, they can exert further harm by exploiting fears and resentments and resulting in further harm to themselves and others. Society becomes more divisive and combative as individuals and groups perceive themselves as excluded, alienated, isolated and persecuted.

The most disconcerting barrier to rectifying these deficits and putting society back on track is denial. It takes the form of the following:

  • I don't have needs
  • I don't have a deficit
  • You don't have needs
  • You just think you have a deficit

Denial is the hardest hurdle to clear. If a person or group is unwilling to admit that they have needs, or that their needs are not met sufficiently, they will never be able to fulfill them appropriately and never take responsibility for their part in the social dynamics that result.

How do we deal with denial? On a personal level, it usually takes hitting bottom, experiencing the worst consequences of our actions, or intervention and confrontation by those that care for us. Even these events don’t guarantee that an individual will be able to accept their personal responsibility for their condition. In the worst cases, people die without ever having felt fufilled.

For society, denial can result in more horrific consequences such as war, famine, genocide, slavery, species extinction, and environmental disasters. In it’s worst form, hitting the bottom could result in the extinction of the human race.

It sounds like we need a 12 step program for Needs Fulfillment.

  1. I admit that I have needs that are unfilled and I have tried to meet them in unproductive ways
  2. I admit that there is truth outside my own experience and my way of getting my needs met isn’t working
  3. I decide to focus on meeting my needs and that I need the help of others to assist me leaving unproductive habits behind
  4. I examine my thoughts and behaviors and take ownership of meeting my own needs and of the consequences of my behavior on others.
  5. I am truthful with myself and other’s about the harm I have caused.
  6. I become willing to follow the necessary process to change the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that prevent my needs from being met and prevent others from meeting theirs.
  7. I ask for the help of others to assist me in my continuing commitment to change. I seek the resources outside my own experience to help me understand how to appropriately meet the needs of others.
  8. I specifically identify the harm I may have caused and become willing to take appropriate steps to heal the wounds. I learn from my past actions in order to prevent future harm.
  9. I take appropriate steps to heal the wounds I have caused to myself and others.
  10. I will continue ensuring that my needs are met appropriately and that I appropriately meet the needs of others.
  11. I will continue learning about how I can make a positive difference in lives of others.
  12. I will offer the same help that others have provided me in learning to meet my needs appropriately.

Monday, June 8, 2009

She's Not Your Grammer ...

For any of you programming geeks, there is an amusing sentence diagram using C++, of one of Sarah Palin's recent pronouncements. When I was in Junior high school we learned about run on sentences.

Sometimes you just have to let people speak for themselves, even if its painful.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Off on Vacation!!!

I made it through yesterday and finally won the battle with Vista, Enterprise Applications and JRE. My SO bought me a MacBook Pro. I'm running VMware fusion - so I can run Vista and Mac 10.5.7 simultaneously. Got an EVDO broadband USB modem - fully provisioned and functional. Deployed 3 automations and dispensed with half a dozen personal errands. Whew. I'm so glad being a geek isn't unpopular anymore!!!

I have my new spanish language Harry Potter books and am ready to relax! I'll finish stocking up the RV and will be off to Fairbanks by noon ??? My SO always runs a few hours late, but that's ok. I am looking forward to renewed intimacy, 8 hours of sleep a night, playing with my dog W., afternoon naps, cooking for fun. I promise i'll post some photos - add a little color to my rhetoric politic.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Annoy a Liberal, Work Hard

I'm sure you've seen the bumper sticker.

I'm a "Liberal", so why am I working so hard? I work in IT and there is never enough time to make up for the underfunding of our core infrastructure. Yet the projects and initiatives the company pursues never stop and continue at a frenetic pace.

In the corporate world, IT gets treated like liberals do in our society. IT is labeled as a "Cost Center" and our resources and efforts are always considered to be free and unlimited. We put in more hours in support of the company than our "Revenue Center" colleagues, yet we are salaried workers - i.e. no overtime, no comp time, and no commissions for our efforts. By the time you divide our salaries by the number of hours we work, we make less than some of our lesser paid colleagues. No, we don't really get paid the "big bucks" - that is an illusion and an IT "in" joke. All we have is the ambiguous pride that we are salaried "professionals." Another classist label that obscures reality.

We save the company money rather than pull it in. We make it so the company doesn't have to hire more people, eliminate the need for manual processes so peoples' efforts can be focused on more important things, and provide the tools that make all employees more productive. We have little time to quantify these savings because we spend the hours that we have trying to keep up with the neverending demands for our services.

So for the next while - i am going to be on vacation - but I'm working half time so I don't delay roll out on the current important projects and avoid donning the label of "not a team player."

This labeling thing is pretty pervasisve isn't it? I have to say i am enjoying this blogging thing. I haven't been so thought full in years.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Perception of Threat: The Relativity of Experience

Today I went searching for blogs of other folks that might share beliefs that I hold dear. I was somewhat disappointed to find that the search results were exactly the opposite of what I was expecting. I tried refining my search criteria so it would filter out the haters, spinners, ultra right wing conservatives and fundamentalist Christian blogs that predominated the search results. My efforts went completely unrewarded. So, I decided I would start looking at some of them.

Two of them really struck me:


I don't think i need to say much about the first blog. It's actually quite a popular blog for gay conservative republicans. It shares the same liberal blasting rhetoric that you would hear from Rush Limbaugh. Cognitive Dissonance.... it makes my head hurt.


The second blog's most recent post was
Atheists Continue to Attack Me . You know I really have a problem with Christians who think they are being persecuted for their beliefs. I know persecution is relative to a person's personal experience - but its really hard for me to feel sorry for someone that creates their own uncomfortable place by alienating the people around them. There is a reason why you don't discuss politics and religion in the workplace. First, you aren't being paid to expouse your views while you are at work. Second, these topics create strife in the workplace, which leads to morale issues and decreases in employee productivity.

Ok - yup - I got side tracked. The real reason why I was so annoyed by this man's blog is that I really doubt his job or his family's safety has ever been threatened because of his religious or political beliefs. He is part of the american majority and protected by the constitution, state and federal laws. While he is complaining that he isn't allowed to express his religious and political views as he teaches our children, he has co-workers that live in fear that they will be outed by children, their homes will be vandelized, they will be physically attacked, or they will lose their jobs because principals fold under the pressure of religious and conservative parents. And to all of this there is little to no legal recourse. I won't belittle his experience, but he could use a push of his reset button.

Finally, this individual would deny these co-workers fundamental human rights because their behavior does not coincide with his beliefs concerning morality. This is hardly Christlike behavior.

Most Finally..... why is it that these folks are quoting the old testament to support their arguments? Doesn't Christianity represent a new covenant that God has made with mankind through Christ's sacrifice? Didn't Christ eschew the judgemental and legalistic ways of the Pharasees? If I were a Christian, i think I would be treading lightly and not even carrying a stone, let alone casting one.

Sarah Palin Clones: Why Oh Why?

Oh, I see her face everywhere I go,
On the street and even at the grocery store
Have you seen them? Tell me have you seen them?
Oh I hear them chanting "she's my hero"
In the hypocrytical voice of Rev. Prevo,
Have you seen them, tell me have you seen them

Why, oh why... did they have to come and stay? oh yeah!
Oh, I've been used to having people be fair, and I'm scared, baby I'm really scared.

Have you seen them, tell me have you seen them ? Tell me have you seen them?
Have you seen them, tell me have you seen them ? Tell me have you seen them?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ideological Misdirection

Today, I saw a comment on Facebook that I resisted responding to, even though I wanted to jump right in - or perhaps more honestly, jump all over.

A friend was expressing her discomfort with the U.S. government owning 60 percent of a unionized GM. The response to this by another user was: "Another step closer to socialism"

Whoa Baby! Lets stop right there. Since when did doing the best for the greater good become socialism? Let's look at this more closely.

Why did GM get into trouble in the first place? And lets not start with the Unions. The unions are a symptom - not the cause.

Let's start with this first.

A corporation - is literally a business given the status, rights and responsibilities of an individual. This embodiment, also insulates those who run or own the business from all sorts of individual liability and responsibility for corporate behavior.

The incorporated business has no motivation to participate in the social contract that human beings engage in on a daily basis - meaning it is impersonal and lacks emotional and social skills.

think about this a little. The corporation is a faulty construct. It shares with its creators, the same shortcomings:

Lack of Foresight
Propensity to Blame
Self Centeredness
Loss of Perspective

Government is the result of the yielding of personal power to an organizational group that is tasked with protection of individual rights and well being.

In GM's case, we see the government taking extraordinary and unprecedented action in order to fulfill it's contract with it's people. Unfortunately, those at greatest risk from the potential collapse of GM - are not the Corporations - but are individual human beings whose livelihood and security are at stake. Even with this intervention, the government will not be able to prevent tens of thousands of people losing their jobs. Yet the alternative, letting the industry collapse entirely, would result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and possibly the government's inability to deliver on any of its responsibilities. Although the remedy is extremely distasteful, perhaps it is better to amputate a gangrenous leg rather than to die with one's body intact.