Saturday, 22 May 2010

Group Dynamics, Arrogance, and Humility.

Well, yes, it seems a very worthy title, but I'm sure I'll just write a load of half-digested rubbish about it. Had a visit from fellow blogger Morte, who I haven't seen since Wales last August. And bloody good to see him it was too. While we sat in the corner of a noisy pub, being given a wide berth by the rest of the clientele (perhaps it was the subject matter of our loud conversation that was putting them off), we fell to talking the about way we find ourselves working as a member of a group or team (when well, in 'remission', or pretending to be well, or not realising we're ill, etc, etc), or not, or even just interacting with 'the herd' (baaaa baaaa), as the case may be.

The first thing we agreed on was that our habit of seeing things more inclusively, more extensively, who knows, maybe more deeply led to a certain kind of humble arrogance - we knew we could sort things out better, faster, more efficiently than others, but also knew the consequences of allowing our behaviour to be over-influenced by that 'arrogance'. We both agreed that we often found it easier to step back and allow the 'slowcoaches' to 'fuck it up' in their own good time - not necessarily a positive tendency. I recalled occasions when I used to try to help people find my solutions, as if they had come up with them themselves - again, a chameleon instinct.

Of course this same intensity of seeing and analysis has its downside - other people can sometimes simply be hell. And the instinct is to avoid them like the devil. And of course, sometimes one over-sees, and I don't mean being the boss! People's actions are interpreted wrongly, motives attributed that they hadn't dreamt of, etc, bad feeling, suspicion, paranoia, the whole big bucket of poo.

We also amused ourselves by staring at all the various categories of monkey-behaviour on display in the pub.  Eyebrow flashes, bouncing on the spot, idle scratching and grooming to avoid eye-contact, that ape dominating that ape, that one happy to be dominated, that one bored, that one avoidant, that one aggressive, etc. It all seemed so absolutely boringly obvious, and generally pointless. Sometimes I feel an almost crippling disgust at the whole seething mass; other times I feel indulgent towards it - after all, it's not as if they can help it. (edit: it is definitely a thing I get when people are in groups - never with individuals)

I just tried to think of the typical types one meets when trying to work with other people. The Prick in Need of Validation, the Useless One Who Gets In the Way, the Willing but Dim, the Practical One, the Aloof One, the Irrelevant One, The Useful Grafter, the Clever One, the Status Junkie, the Tedious Joker, and the Jobsworth. Not a particularly positive list, but (un)fairly accurate in my experience. Obviously one focuses on the practical, hard-working, and intelligent individuals, and give the rest of them something harmless to fight over. Maybe it's no accident I prefer to work alone, or to be in complete charge! (Personally I'd describe myself as a perfect combination of the three positive types, but I suppose I'm biased.)

In practice, during planning meetings, I generally would state how I was going to solve a problem, invite objections or suggestions, and either refute them, or include them, depending on their merit. I would never give an inch on matters that involved compromising either safety, or the well-being of the artwork or sculpture that I was being asked to conserve. Minor matters, such as not being able to work around a certain ex-prime minister's funeral, for instance, I was happy to defer. (Too many bloody armed police, for starters. But if I recall, I still billed them for the lost day, and spent it making fair copies of all the marked-up drawings.) But generally I remember being rather bloody-minded in most things, and it was a fairly useful skill to have. I never once negotiated my price, for example.

I have strayed from my subject. So I shall continue! Got the boys staying with me tonight. Lovely. They are curled on the sofa, watching a film about tigers (they've had no television for a while, since the pc went kaput at home). We've just eaten fish and chips in the last of the gorgeous sun, peaceful, calm, and really sheer damned pleasant. I'm writing this while grabbing a cigarette, and now, I shall stop.


Morte said...

A happy ending to a no doubt trying day!
Was great to see you again and exchange various theories on life/love/mad people. I'll try not to leave it quite so long next time.

Kate said...

Goodness me. This is the most arrogant post I have ever read. You conceited old git!

tweednut said...

Yeah Morte, really enjoyed it. Summer maybe? Cheers for the trundle up through the nostril-stinking eye-insulting rape fields too.

Kate - why, thank you for the kind compliments! :-) x