[Opinion] The Bigots Among Us

It is easy to dismiss ideas that we don’t agree with, that we find to be repulsive, or that downright offend us.

It is easy to dismiss ideas that we believe are damaging, could lead to cycles of violence, or that we believe are fearful.

It is easy to dismiss ideas that we think are regressive, oppressive, or not progressive enough for us to engage with based on our worldview.

And increasingly, and even more disturbingly, it is easier for us to dismiss the existence of people in the culture who hold these ideas.

But, as it turns out, the people holding ideas that make us afraid and angry, or that we think are stupid or retrograde, are the ones that work next to us sweeping floors, washing dishes, taking out the trash, and sometimes even counting our change back to us at the grocery store.

This is a real problem, because there’s no way to eliminate all the people who think differently than we do. There’s no real way to completely and categorically scrub every idea that we find offensive from the public square. The only option really, is to socially sanction the people with the ideas enough so that they shut up…and go away.


Those people are still going to have children.

Those people are still going to have houses.

Those people are still going to have to pay the bills.

Those people are still going to want to contribute to society and culture.

Those people are still going to work.

And when a culture links holding a preferred set of ideas to advancing economically, socially, and culturally in that culture; and, when there are some people who just think differently, that culture is not long for freedom, and is approaching a soft form of tyranny.

Which has always hardened in the not-so-distant historical past.

[Advice] Your Organization is not What it Seems

The main conflict situations in many organizations revolve around multiple, differing narratives about the value of work, the importance of compensation, the legitimacy of management and the possibility of leadership. But, outside of the organizations, many of the root causes of these conflicts used to never be seen by external candidates.


Many things get mixed in that brew of narratives, which leads to many organizations evolving to the point of the highest level of competency for individual performers, and then evolving no higher. But the strange thing is that, even in organizations where the narrative is broken, there is still hiring going on of external candidates for internal positions. This is because, the narrative that an external candidate tells themselves about the advertised role for which they are applying, doesn’t always match up with the internal organizational reality. But it takes a while for that mismatch to be discovered.

And this space—the space between getting hired and finding the mismatch—could take months, years or even decades to cross. Meanwhile, the organization benefits from the employees’ labor, time, talent and expertise, in exchange for a paycheck and providing a brief sense of security.

However, with more access to more information by more people about what is actually going on inside of an organization –it’s internal politics, it’s lack of leadership opportunities, it’s conflicting messages and methods of accomplishing goals and tasks—the chances of a candidate staying, or even initially applying for a position, grow narrower and narrower.

And this is the bind that many organizations find themselves in today. Even with economic uncertainty, political strife, cultural changes, and everything else, many individuals are finally waking up to the idea that they have options, they have choices, and they don’t have to settle for what’s available. Organizations have to realize that the quarterly numbers to the shareholders and great media coverage won’t continue to translate to hiring new productive employees and lowered internal conflict.

Particularly if the numbers continue to mismatch to lived reality, leaking out through media channels, in-person conversations, and passed on observations.

Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Podcast] The Epidemiology of Conflict – The Earbud_U Minute

Conflicts, disputes and other disagreements are not the disease. They are symptoms of the disease.

When we think about how a virus spreads, doctors, researchers, data gatherers and others look at the patterns, causes and effects of health and disease conditions in a particular population.

Epidemiology is a very specific interdisciplinary science, but when we talk about the presenting issues that lead to conflict, even in our post-therapeutic age, we are still hesitant to become armchair analysts.

Or, we analyze and get it wrong.

The beginning of understanding the how and why the symptoms of conflict are confused with the nature of a conflict itself, begins with taking apart the behavioral and personality choices that individuals make—and that particular populations, in particular environments, support.

Think about it: In the workplace, there still remains the illusion that resources are limited, thus competition is reinforced.

Thus, individuals who would rather be collaborative are now in conflict with the underpinnings of the environment where they spend 40 to 60 hours per week.

Think about it: In the church—or any other religious organization—the illusion remains that faith and belief will remove the stain of previous wrongs and mistakes without active engagement on the part of the individual.

Thus, individuals who are looking for active engagement wind up within groups that would rather remain collectively passive in the face of all manner of wrongdoing.

Think about it: In the school, bullying behavior manifests, but politicians, teachers, policy makers and others would rather support a broken system that encourages collective, Industrial system based responses.

Thus, micro-schooling with smaller groups (or homeschooling) is pooh-poohed and parents (who vote) raise children who are overly aggressive due to familial environments, and are never directly confronted about the results of their uninformed parenting styles by the “system.”

Root causes—and getting back to them—is often the first thing that is dismissed by critics of therapy, counseling, and even mediation.

But without exploring and getting to the root of root causes, the solutions to the corrosive nature of conflict will never be fully teased apart.

And we will continue to be collectively surprised by apathy and inaction, bullying, poor communication, and ineffective organizational responses, even as we build more tools that separate us further.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principle Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Opinion] Symbols Matter

Mattering and meaning are more important to the accomplishment of work tasks—and the avoidance of work conflicts— now than ever before.


But not if you talk to managers, supervisors, executives and others.

The people who are bosses still believe the Industrial Revolution idea that the work is the only thing that matters, that shows dedication, service and loyalty to the cause, the company and the future.

For employees though, symbols in the workplace have been cheapened because of the deeply held beliefs that bosses sometimes have, exemplified by human resource policies, time away, manifestos, and quotes on the wall.  When asked, many employees (particularly those who have been in an organization more than six months) report that they “don’t even pay attention to that stuff anymore.”

This is because the symbolism behind the policies and procedures no longer matters to an employee, when the lived out, organizational substance doesn’t match.

In the world before Google based transparency, where rumors, tall tales and other misinformation could spread about an employer, the work was the substance and the symbols didn’t matter to anybody.

However, institutional lethargy and fear of change has caused many organizations to cling to the past, even as the waves around them swirl, demonstrating that symbols bring mattering to the workplace. And even more than that, symbols backed up by substance, history, and truthful stories told truthfully, are the only things that can give employee work meaning.

Otherwise, thrashing about work-life balance versus integration, time away versus time at work when away, and all of the other human resource based arguments that have arisen over the last forty years, don’t really matter much in the larger scheme of reducing workplace stress and conflict.

-Peace With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[ICYMI] Bullying

There are all kinds of personalities operating in the world today.

There are the “weird” outliers who enjoy collecting odd, unusual items off of Ebay.
There are the “bosses” and the “employees.”
There are even the “nice” “normal” people who turn on their television and fall asleep in front of the Tonight Show and reality TV after putting in a hard day at work.
Then there are the people who are never talked about or mentioned.
These people are the ones who don’t get along well with other folks.
These are the people who don’t have multi-million dollar executive bonuses that serve to hide their evil ways.
These are the people who spam your inbox and send you unwanted junk mail through what’s left of the mail system.
We used to call these people “flim-flam” men (although they were also sometimes women) and matchstick men (from which the film takes its name).
There is also a more common name for them, which everyone uses now, particularly in the workplace and in the school system:
We all know the conventional wisdom about bullies:
Bullies are dangerous.
Bullies are angry.
Bullies are socially inept.
Bullies are misunderstood.
Bullies are just victims of other bullies.
Bullies are people who have to be taught that “that kind of behavior” is “unacceptable.”
Bullies have to pay the rent.
Bullies are going to continue to have children.
Bullies are going to drive cars and go to nice restaurants.Bullies vote in elections.
So the question becomes, in a world where the outlier is ever more trumpeted and celebrated and the weird is the new “normal,” how do we as a society give bullies jobs?
How do we co-opt and enfranchise bullies?
Not bullying behavior, that’s enough of a problem in and of itself, but how do we get a bully a job that will allow them to progressively be transformed into someone that is compliant, complacent and cooperative?
As you ponder this question, take this parallel into consideration:
Jerry Sandusky is widely considered to be a monster.He molested and took advantage of the system in which he was ensconced for almost 40+ years to steal innocence and trust from children and young adults. The English Tops of the Pops host, Jimmy Savile did the exact same thing in the exact same way.
However, while Jimmy is dead, Jerry is very much alive and buried in a prison where we as a society would like to forget him.But, someone is going to have to go into that cell with Jerry to talk with him, examine him and take him apart, so that his crimes against children can never take place again and so that we can ID predators early and do what we can to stop them before they become what they will ultimately be.
And that’s the parallel.
We will have to give bullies jobs in a world of niches and the “weird” so that we can gradually, societally, say, with some confidence that “Bullying doesn’t happen here.”
Originally published on July 30, 2013.Download the FREE E-Book, The Savvy Peace Builder by heading to http://www.hsconsultingandtraining.com/e-book-the-savvy-peace-builder/ today!

Interviewing For Cultural Fit

Culture defines how employees make meaning about the work that they do.

How To Hire

Workplace culture is defined as ways of thinking, behaving and working in an organization that provides boundaries for where employees can and cannot place value.

The issue comes when the personal culture that an employee comes from doesn’t match the culture of the organization that they are joining.

In other contexts, this disruption is noted as lack of product market fit, and typically, in the open market, when an organization makes something that no one wants to buy, they go out of business.

When we think of hiring, the interview process is used as a way to avoid—or minimize—the detrimental results of a lack of product (people) market (job) fit.

However, these days the interview process is so artificial and so unable to determine if a person can actually do the job for which they have been hired, it is a wonder we haven’t done away with it.

Conflicts in the workplace arise from the get-go, because the initial person/organization fit is poor, and then they escalate when two people, tasked to work together to accomplish a company goal, can’t get along with each other and disagree about where they fit in the organization.

Cultural interpersonal conflicts at work are corrosive, damaging and dangerous and could probably be avoided if–instead of asking a series of artificial questions, or filing out meaningless, psychological assessments—the hiring organization could discover each individuals’ story about why they want to work for an organization in a particular position.

Would this be harder, more time consuming and require a deeper level of emotional intelligence on the part of the hiring committee? Sure. But firing and rehiring are just as time consuming and harder still.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

Top 3 Tactics for Avoiding Performance Improvement

We are sure that we aren’t the first corporate training firm working in the area of conflict resolution to hear either one–or all three–of the following statements:

Multiple Symbols

“The people who really need this information to have better approaches, won’t be attending these sessions.”

“The people who are causing all the problems and could use this workshop to improve aren’t going to come.”

“The people who could support us up the chain in changing our approaches, can’t come to the workshops due to scheduling issues.”

Just in case you’ve ever said any one—or any combination of the three—above statements, we here at HSCT have a few suggestions to get “buy-in” from the people who aren’t showing up, learning, or otherwise growing in your organization.

  • For the people occupying positions above your position, find out if they like to look good. Attending a conflict resolution workshop will make them look good to their bosses. It will also help them save money on recruiting and retention.
  • For the people occupying position parallel to your position, find out if they want to get promoted. Attending a conflict resolution workshop will make them promotable. Which means more money for them.
  • For the people in conflict with you, or those creating conflict in your organization, find out how they view the organization and their place in it. Once you do that, then you can tap into their inner work based ego.

Which we’ll cover the work based ego in another blog post later this year, but we have covered emotional illiteracy, workplace anger, being concerned about employees, and the depth of the “conflict question” all of which relate directly to using these tricks.

Employ the above tactics and the next time we’re invited into your organization, you’ll come up with a different statement for us.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/
HSCT’s website: http://www.hsconsultingandtraining.com

Artificial Wisdom

There is a demonstrable difference between intelligence and wisdom.
After watching the new Cosmos, with host Neil DeGrasse Tyson, we here at HSCT are amazed at how much human beings have accomplished.
It’s a miracle that we go from arguing with our parents and spilling our lunch down our shirts to going to engineering machines that can take people to the moon in the space of 32 years.
This is a human miracle that is very rarely commented on and when it is, we usually dismiss it and instead focus on our co-worker with the messy, meatball sandwich laden shirt who is 32.

  • Intelligence gets us to the moon.
  • Intelligence engineers Facebook and Google.
  • Intelligence determines how much concrete and steel need to go into a bridge to make it stand.
  • Intelligence measures how much water needs to go into a flower to make it grow.

But wisdom…well…that’s another thing altogether, right?

  • Wisdom waxes poetic about the shape of the moon and its meaning in our lives.
  • Wisdom ponders turning off the computer and turning to offline relationships.
  • Wisdom causes us to care (or not) about the plight of the people under the bridge.
  • Wisdom calls to us to touch the flower and talk to it to encourage its growth.

Does your computer, or Google, have that?
In a very short amount of cosmic time, we have managed to slice a sliver from the great stone of knowledge, but HSCT’s concern is that we have not attained the commensurate wisdom to go along with it.
HSCT’s conflict engagement consultant, Jesan Sorrells, will be presenting on the issue of online reputation maintenance in a world where virtues and traits such as love and wisdom, are not often addressed.
Register for this FREE event here http://www.sunybroome.edu/web/ethicsand stay for the day.
We would love to see you there!
-Peace Be With You All- 
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com