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Inclusion: How to articulate caring inclusion and courageous conversations?

30 January 2019 | Thoughts

Training in benevolent communication (non-violent communication…) for all employees of a collaborative organization must allow everyone to tackle difficult subjects with the necessary finesse to avoid hurting each other. My partners in Phusis, and my family members, will testify that I still have a lot of work to do in this area. I am therefore convinced of their usefulness. That said, I have also been able to see through various experiences how some people want to be so benevolent that they no longer dare to criticize a colleague’s work, under the guise that he would act there on the basis of a subjective opinion when that work is objectively below reasonable expectations. However, the effective management of tensions that may arise between colleagues from the unsatisfactory performance of their respective roles, whether for personal or structural reasons, is one of the keys to the successful implementation of collaborative governance.

This difficulty in telling and hearing factual truths in organizations, under the guise that they are only subjective opinions, seems to me to echo the growing blurring between truth and fiction in our democratic societies, a dangerous game that a Trump compulsively promotes. Of course, as Kafka had already seen well, it is “difficult to tell the truth, because there is only one, but it is alive, and therefore has a changing face.” But, as the philosopher Myriam Revault d’Allonnes clearly shows in her book “La faiblesse du vrai: ce que fait la post-vérité à notre monde commun“, the result of the repeated transformation of de facto truths into opinions (“alternative facts”) leads, according to her, to the destruction of “the common space where common sense is developed, expanded way of thinking is based on the public use of reason.”  The same can be said for organizations, in my opinion. It, therefore, seems essential to me to ensure that the benevolent communication training that accompanies the establishment of collaborative governance is properly perceived as an invitation to engage in courageous conversations, not to avoid them, to tell the truth even when it hurts. David Grimal of the philharmonic orchestra Les Dissonances expresses it by stressing that the key is to “combine demand and benevolence” (even if, in principle, benevolence well understood, already includes the requirement to tell the truth).

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