Enlightened Conflict

not answering questions and deflection

April 21st, 2017

Question Cloud the issue answer business

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obfuscate

This is the word to use when evasion is achieved by clouding the issue.

Creating a smoke-screen.

 

prevaricate, evade, dodge

 

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“When shrouded meanings and grim intentions are nicely polished up and pokerfaced personae are generously palming off their fantasy constructs, caution is the watchword, since rimpling water on the well of truth swiftly obscures our vision and perception.

(“Trompe le pied/wrong foot.”)”

 

Erik Pevernagie

 

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So.

 

There is possibly nothing more aggravating in business than someone not avoid word businessanswering “the” question. To be clear on what I am speaking about … they answer a question … just not the one you asked.

 

I am not going to argue that some questions are not easy to answer.

I won’t even argue that we get asked questions we don’t know the answers to but the situation dictates we make something up <yes … that happens in business>.

 

But abandoning the question completely is … well … complete bullshit.

 

But you know what?

 

I think the main reason it is so aggravating is because it is truly a reflection of intentions.

 

There is even a book called The Anthropology of Intentions by a professor, Alessandro Duranti, who kind of tackles this whole discussion of intentions & words.

He offers us the thought of ‘intentional discourse’ wherein an individual filters words through their beliefs & desires and their plans & goals to guide the discourse <regardless of whether the rest of the people want it guided that way>. In other words, using another phrase he offers us, by engaging in an intentional continuum people ponder their use of words through self-interest motivations <some good & some bad>.

 

By the way … I am fairly sure I mangled his academic masterpiece … but you get the point.

 

Ah.

“You get the point.”

 

I share that again because while we sit there aggravated at someone who completely avoided answering the question asked … we almost always also sit there wanting to invest a little of our own energy trying to assess why they did it. Because, in our aggravated minds, in its most simplistic viewing … avoiding the question is solely about shifting attention – away from something and toward something else.

 

Sure.

It could be something as simple as steering you away from their lack of deflection answer question avoidknowledge and steering you toward something they may actually know.

 

But, in most cases, a full abandonment of a specific question is complete & utter deflection.

 

In the intelligence community they call this effort to shift attention as deflection or misdirection. Magicians do something similar getting people to focus on one thing and away from the trick itself.

Completely avoiding the question is the business version of a distract-the-audience approach. It is this weird moment in which someone pretends to answer the question by actually answering some other question that magically appeared to replace the question really asked.

It’s almost like entering an alternative universe for a while.

 

Sadly. Aggravated or not … the more practiced the deception <the more practiced the business magician is> the more likely you hesitate to step in <and the more you get aggravated as you hesitate> and correspondingly … the more many of these people actually believe deception works.

 

It is maddening.

 

Worse?

If they are good at it … when someone responds to a question by not addressing the points of the question, thereby avoiding the issue itself, it doesn’t create unrelated discussion to the issue … it simply avoids the issue in totality.

 

Well.

..... watching the question being ignored .........

….. watching the question being ignored ………

I am fairly sure we have all sat there in a meeting and watched something like this unfolding right before our eyes.

 

The visceral response, the aggravation, we have to this ‘answer evasion’ situation is most likely found in the revelation it is occurring … watching it unfold before our eyes.

Philosophically, we can see that through some internal conviction to retain something they feel like they should own <their reputation, their title, their perceived intelligence, their whatever> they justify evading the question.

 

Conviction. Yeah. I just used ‘internal conviction.’ This means their intentions reflect they are more important than not only the question itself … but you. You are not even dignified with an answer.

 

It is irksome <at its least worst>.

 

It is loathsome <at its most worst>.

 

Look.

 

I give a partial pass to the asshats you can see who have some answer they want to give everyone, regardless of what question is asked, and blurt it out when given the opportunity. They haven’t deflected the question … they just ignored it as unimportant to what they want to say and have been planning to say no matter what has been said up to that point.

 

It’s the ones you know heard the question … and just ignored it. Or avoided it. Or just didn’t answer it despite the fact they heard every word, every syllable and every intention from the question giver.

 

In other words … they intentionally do not answer the question.

 

<envision a deep sigh here>

 

I want people to face questions head on. And what makes this even more aggravating is that you know these people are quite capable of taking things head on.look over there answer

 

How do I know that?

 

These are the same people who will attack, or ‘aggressively question’, the intentions of the question giver themselves. It is a common tactic for the answer avoiders. The natural instinct is to ‘defend’ … to answer the attack. Fuck that. I want to say … “just answer the fucking question asked.”

 

How else do I know these people are quite capable of taking questions head on?

 

These are the same people who will attack, or ‘aggressively question’, the question itself. This is not a deflection tactic … this is a ‘turn the question back on itself’ tactic. And, once again, your natural instinct is to defend or … well … answer the question you are asked.  Fuck that. I want to say … “just answer the fucking question asked.”

 

And maybe what makes this ‘not answering the question asked’ so maddening is that we, most sane pragmatic business people, tend to sit back <after saying “WTF”> and try and unravel why it happened and what the hell just happened.

Unless you are in an interview scenario <in which you always have an opportunity, one-to-one, to hunker down and hammer out a clear answer> you are most likely in a room with other people and the non-answer has sent at least some of the people careening down a completely different road.

 

That makes it even MORE aggravating.

 

One intentional non answer to a question can completely derail a meeting or a avoid questionsdiscussion.

 

That is intentional discourse. Or how about the other phrase from that academic’s book … engaging in an intentional continuum.

 

Oh.

 

And one last way you know these asshats are intentionally not answering the question is when they cleverly decline to answer the question with the infamous head fake answer … “I don’t know the answer to that question. I’ll work on finding the information for you and then get back to you with an answer” <and they have no fucking intention of ever getting back to you>.

 

Yeah.

 

You know … sure as shit … they have no plans to work on it and will never ‘get back to you’ unless you call them on it.

They are intentionally refusing to answer the question assuming the conversation will move on and, in a laundry list of other shit to do, that this one will either never make the list or be so low on the list they can stiff arm you on answering based on “working on things more important.”

 

Its bullshit. You know its bullshit. They know its bullshit.

 

Well.

 

Fuck you.

Fuck you and the non-answering horse you rode in on.

 

In my mind a good well-articulated question demands some accountability. The one given the question is now accountable for the answer. They may try and deflect and they may just answer a completely different question … but a question asked exists … it does not disappear. You cannot get away from it.

 

Let me share a graphic example of why accountability remains whether the question dodger likes it or not.

 

You open your front door in the morning and there is a nice pile of dog poop avoid question bomb stink business problemssquarely in the middle of your front door opening. You either clean it up or you avoid it. The question dodger never acknowledges the pile and steps over it moving on to something else. The shit stays at the front door and over time the smell increases and the flies crowd around.

A good question unanswered is just like that. And a question dodger cannot avoid the smell in the end.

 

All that said.

 

My message to the asshats who completely do not answer the question asked:  You will be accountable to the question and to cleaning up the mess … now … or later <and quit aggravating me by not answering the fucking question>.

 

 

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Author note:

When I reread this, which took me less than a ½ hour to write, I was a little asshole admittingsurprised by how … well … aggravated the tone was.

Lots of ‘fucks’ and ‘asshats’.

I left it as is because as a 50something business guy who has always attempted to take on what needs to be taken on regardless of how painful t may have been <and career wise possibly less than prudent> I get a little angry about how the business world has become incredibly unkind to the risk takers & truth tellers and seems to reward the less-than-competent and ‘political maneuverers’ more often than it should. That’s my excuse for why I let this one stand as it does.

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North Korea and the art of the deal

April 18th, 2017

North Korean leader military

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“The most dangerous creation in the world, in any society, is the man with nothing to lose. “

 

 

—-

Al Freeman Jr.

 

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“When there is nothing to lose — Always leave a way out, unless you really want to find out how hard a man can fight when he’s nothing to lose.”

 

Robert Jordan

 

============

 

Well.

 

I know I didn’t write the art of the deal <and I could not have written it> but it trump winning art of complainingsure does seem like we are going about trying to make a deal with North Korea in a slightly counter intuitive way.

I certainly have not negotiated Manhattan real estate deals and lucrative licensing deals but I do know something about human behavior, loyalty to habitual behavior and how people assess value to things they do … and what kind of value you need to offer to increase the likelihood in change of behavior.

 

Behavior 101:

I do know that if what you have is everything to you … you have nothing to lose to hold on to it with ragged claws.

 

 

Your current behavior, while seemingly incredibly irrational on occasion, is actually made up of an internal value assessment.

 

For example.

 

Increase sanctions and you actually increase the value of the only thing I have. For example … if you start taking all of my things, the one thing I have, my home, becomes more important to me – truly my castle — which I will defend until my last penny .

 

Increase the presence and power of your military & strength and while it may showcase that my military is smaller it increases the importance of the one thing I do have <my military strength>.

 

<note: I am not suggesting reminding someone you have a stronger punch doesn’t have some value … it just has a diminishing return in the deal valuation>

 

Increase your bluster and it actually increases the value in my bluster.

 

I say all that to point out that’s why the way this deal is so artfully, or inartfully, being done seems totally whack to me.

 

What would I be tempted to try?

 

Get them to switch. Offer something in return for giving up their current habit.

 

Make it so lucrative that they cannot pass on the deal <and you actually “buy the switch in products” — which consumer companies do all the time>.

 

Their military represents all their pride and country esteem. Think of it like some asshole guy owning a Mustang <with a disturbingly absurd personal relationship with it … probably has given it a name and a vanity plate>.

It’s powerful, muscular and masculine. It is also individual esteem based self actualization emblem.

 

Now you have a family.

 

We will ask you to ditch your beloved Mustang and … well … maybe now I want you to buy a large house in a prosperous neighborhood to showcase you are a powerful, responsible, muscular, successful man.

 

Okay.

Bad analogy.

self esteem maslow

 

But suffice it to say that I want them to trade their pride & self actualization/esteem in military to something else. In fact … I want to give it to them in one hand and take what they have back in the other hand.

 

Personally … I would offer them a viable economy and country infrastructure to sustain their population & culture as the deal.

 

Now.

 

To be clear.

We don’t want to westernize North Korea … how they govern is their choice … what their culture is … is … well … their choice. Therefore, we would have to seek to quickly build a viable North Korea economy based on what they want and what supports their governance and culture.

Yup.

This means we would have to suck it up and try and stop pushing our values and our beliefs on them and … well … simply make the trade.

 

I imagine my point <for those who shudder at setting aside ‘our values’ in this deal making> would be is that prosperity tends to make people and cultures more free <or freer than they were before> so that the country becomes a more viable entity to interact with global economy and cultures.

We get a little of what we want in terms of ‘human rights progress’ but, most importantly, we wean North Korea off of military as their self actualization brand and replace it with something else <note: this means keep your eye on the real prize in the deal>.

 

Sure.

There would most likely have to be some additional “gives” in terms of military scale down on our side in the region to insure they trade what they have <this is where China can step up by signing an agreement with North Korea that they will militarily support North Korea should the need arise>. This also permits military emphasis to shift from North Korea to China which, while troubling in some ways, is a more palatable diplomacy challenge.

 

Look. The way Donald J. Trump is going about this may make some Americans feel ‘patriotically powerful’ but it sure doesn’t seem like the right way to go about making a deal.

 

We need to stop calling the leader of a country a crazy nutjob.

 

We need to stop threatening them with bluster.

 

We need to stop stating the obvious … that we have the most powerful military in the world and they don’t <because in this case it is simply semantics of degrees of death & destruction>.

 

north korea map provincesWe need to stop taking shit away from them <they aren’t some child who loses their allowance because they did something wrong>. We need to approach this deal as if it was a business marketing to someone that we wanted them to switch from a product they have been loyal to for years to some new product <some people call that “extreme change in behavior”>.

 

 

I would suggest to the smarter minds than I, trying to figure this out, that changing behavior is hard … and switching behavior may be even harder … but that is what you are seeking to do in this so-called ‘deal’ we are trying to impatiently reach with North Korea.

 

But.

 

What do I know?

I didn’t write the Art of the Deal.

 

What I do know is that America has really nothing to lose <excepting possibly Donald J Trump’s ego … which is a concern> and North Korea has everything to lose <in their eyes>. Paradoxically this means North Korea is being cornered and has … well … nothing to lose by doubling down on bluster, military self esteem posturing and … well … defending the only thing they have.

 

Pride, self esteem & all that Maslow stuff is really really powerful stuff.

Someone in this deal making needs to remember that this is less about military and nukes than it is all this other powerful stuff.

 

Sigh.

 

And they need to remember …

 

… unless you really want to find out how hard a man can fight when he’s nothing to lose

 

 

the importance of fairy tales

April 13th, 2017

 book fairy

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“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

 

Neil Gaiman

 

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So.

 

Turn on TV these days and you can see a variety of fairy tales being mangled by special effects, simmering adult romance and almost every form of bastardization of the moralistic aspects of fairy tales imaginable.

 

What a shame.

 

This may sound a little silly, particularly with some of the wacky things happening in the world today, but I think people <adults in particular> need fairy tales more than ever … the original ones and not the bastardized Hollywood versions. I think now, maybe more than in a long time, we need to be reminded we can actually beat dragons.

 

 

No.

I don’t want people to live some fairy tale Life.

 

Yes.

I do want people to believe in the underlying messages of fairy tales themselves.

 

intelligence fairy talesThe truth is that, metaphorically, fairy tales tend to depict the most difficult, complex challenges we face.

 

Even better?

 

99% of us know these fairy tales.

 

Yeah.

The truth is that almost every adult knows these fairy tales … which should creates a common understanding of what we need most… that we have an inner strength and a belief if we do our best and what is right we can overcome the worst monsters imaginable.

 

Sigh.

 

But this only works if we adults actually believe a fairy tale offers something useful to us in our adult Life.

 

Here is a truth.

Fairy tales, when at their best, simplify the most complex dilemmas <which seem to keep many of us awake at night as adults> into a less complex, mostly resolved environment, in which danger is met … and while the moment carries a burden of huge significance to the main character … reaches a resolution.

 

I could argue that it is adults who most to need fairy tales and we could actually use them to start believing in some important shit we need to believe in order to deal with reality.

 

Some analysis somewhere online suggested that the power of a fairy tale to an adult is that the fairy tale has its roots in a mixture of “honest harshness” and “wishful hoping” combined with specific harsh challenges and specific ways out or through the challenge.

fate master of

I could argue that fairy tales showcase that the fate of our destiny resides within our own heads, hearts & hard work … not anyone else nor even at the hands of any monster standing in our way.

 

I could argue that fairy tales remind us that the world is unpredictably hostile to us and often quite destructive to our desires, if not to our survival, and, yet, it is also unpredictably full of resources if we are smart enough to look around enough … and hard enough.

 

I could argue we need more people to believe in fairy tales and certainly a mixture of “honest harshness” and “wishful hoping”. It doesn’t mean they are nuts or out of touch with reality … I mean, what the hell, people need to find hope & answers however they can.

 

Some people will find hope in a fairy tale and, frankly, why should anyone have any say in where a person may look for that hope?

 

Some people will find answers in a fairy tale and, frankly, why should anyone care where a person may look for answers to Life?

 

Look.

 

All people want to be happy.  Different people just get there in different ways.

All people want to figure out roadblocks to our happiness. Different people just get there in different ways.

 

Who’s to say the ones who read fairy tales aren’t the smart ones these days.

 

All my own thoughts aside.

 

Let me share Psychology Today’s point of view <so you can see what an expert may suggest>:

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Yet it seems very important to me, perhaps even more important today, that these ancient stories should be repeated again and again. The violence within them is always contained within a fate and beginningssatisfying structure with a reversal, and the requisite happy ending.

Here good and evil are so conveniently and completely separate. There are no grey areas in the fairy tale. The appearance of the villain allows the child to freely project his own violent feelings onto these separate and satisfyingly wicked beings. Unable to express anger or hatred directly toward those adults on whom the child depends, he/she can displace this natural aggression and give free reign to it personified by the villain: the step-mother, the wicked wolf or the witch.

 

At the same time, having split good and evil so completely and satisfyingly the child can identify with the good hero or heroine.

He/she can beat his way valiantly through the thick forest to rescue sleeping beauty or magically acquire the carriage, grand dress and glass slippers to enchant the prince. The child can identify with the small, the weak or the downtrodden (little Cinderella, sweeping the hearth, for example) who, in a gratifying reversal, is able to overcome the odds and triumph, marrying the prince.

These tales thus permit both the expression of natural violence and at the same time preserve that essential part of life without which the child cannot prosper: hope.

 

Psychology Today

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And maybe that is where a fairy tale is most powerful for an adult who deigns to reads a fairy tale … there are no grey areas in the fairy tale.

 

Maybe someone who reads fairy tales somehow feels safer and more capable to face the unpredictable world because it clears the mind from the ambiguities, which many seem man-made, and permits us to see the truth — most challenges can be beaten.

 

Maybe fairy tales help someone beat their way valiantly through the thick forest to rescue their dream or magically acquire what they need to enchant Destiny <and their fate>.

 

I can honestly say that I hope the rest of the world doesn’t try to beat the fairy tale reading out of the people willing to reread them and talk about them … because it would be a shame.

 

Look.

 

It’s a hard time for anyone who believes in fairy tales these days. And it doesn’t help that reality suggests some fairy tale crap of its own.

 

Oddly enough … we seem to think endlessly of an end goal or an outcome as success in Life <which is a fairy tale> … and a dream or fairy tale as some unrealistic ‘thing’ consisting of rainbows, unicorns and unrealistic endings <yet the tale itself offers us a lesson for reality>.

 

Uhm.

 

I have news for everyone … the real fairy tale is a belief that everything in our lives would instantly be perfect if only we could have ABC … or do XYZ.attitude dream think

 

And reality may actually be more like the fairy tale story where unpredictable challenges are beaten by finding unpredictable resources within ourselves without any moral ambiguity.

 

How backwards is that?

 

Anyway.

 

We should all read more fairy tales.

They will remind us that we can do more than we believe and overcome more than we sometimes believe … and that fairy tale endings aren’t fantastical and not indicative of reality but rather just happy.

 

Not fantastical because, partially, you are reminded  you can resolve the unpredictable challenge and get past it.

 

Not fantastical because, partially, they remind us we can beat dragons.

 

Sure does seem like we could partially find both of those learnings quite useful these days. But. That’s me.

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“The unicorn is a lonely, solitary creature that symbolizes hope.”

 

Ally McBeal

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the Indian Wars Never Ended (and they are still getting screwed)

April 10th, 2017

do not use word i promise ligtly careful

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“We ask for nothing more, and will accept nothing less, than the U.S. government keeping the promises made to Native Americans.”

 

John E. Echohawk

NARF Executive Director

 

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“All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian.”

 

Pat Paulsen

 

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“To be continued.”

 

closing words on  Native American Rights Fund TV ad

 

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Well.

 

indian map of usaOne of the first pieces I ever wrote on Enlightened conflict was “200 years later the American Indian may be partially unscrewed.”

 

 

I thought of what I wrote back in 2009 because I just read an article suggesting that 50% … yeah … 50 fucking percent … of native American Indians are homeless.

 

… a Brooklyn-sized housing crisis has languished in the 617 American Indian and Alaska Native tribal areas and 526 surrounding counties where 2.5 million of this land’s first peoples live. There, Native men, women and children occupy the most severely overcrowded and rundown homes in the United States.

 

The 11,000 members of the Northern Arapaho in Wyoming, for example, share just 230 reservation homes. A staggering 55% are considered homeless because they’re couch surfing. In the Navajo Nation, 18,000 homes or roughly 40% of total Navajo housing stock lack electricity or running water.

 

In the twilight of the Obama administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated that these forgotten communities urgently needed 68,000 new housing units – 33,000 to eliminate overcrowding and 35,000 to replace deteriorated stock. This is a number similar in scale to total new construction called for in New York’s current 10-year housing plan.

 

But while New York’s housing crisis has occupied headlines and led to a plan of action, the indigenous housing crisis has remained invisible. HUD’s study is the first and only in-depth report on the subject.

american indians 1 american indians 2 american indians 3 american indians 4 american indians 5

 

I could just point out that this is simply unconscionable for a fully developed country but then I would have to point out how little conscious we have shown as we have consistently screwed the native American Indians since we got here.

 

I could point out how easily this could be resolved compared to the ongoing seemingly unsolvable things like balancing the federal budget, climate change and national healthcare initiatives but we seem to like avoiding the solvable because it most likely seems to ‘small.’

 

I could even point out that while we spend incredible amounts of time discussing meaningful issues like livable wages, equal economic opportunities and helping lift people out of poverty it seems like we shouldn’t ignore what I would consider the most basic of basics for every citizen in the united states … food, water & shelter.

 

This is crazy to me.

 

I am not a bleeding heart liberal nor am I a believer in monetary restitution for past discretion but I don’t believe just because I have screwed someone in the past and got away with it I should look the other way in their time of need <thereby screwing them through avoidance>.

 

Well.

 

I actually have one word for us in this moral less stance we seem to be tacking on this issue … a native American Indian word …  Majimanidoo.

 

It is the Chippewa Indians <or Ojibwe tribe if we want to be technically correct> for ‘evil spirit’.

It is an especially brutal word because by ‘evil spirit’ the Indian tribe means ‘someone born without a soul.’

 

This word embodies someone devoid of anything good.

 

You know what? I tend to believe Native American Indians sure could be thinking about using that word for us.

screwed sign

We screwed them by killing them off.

 

We screwed them by taking away their lands.

 

We screwed them by demanding they lose their culture and become … well … Christian Caucasians.

 

And then when we actually acknowledged we screwed them … we threw some money at them.

 

In Life we can all end up on some side of some pretty bad things. This surely seems like one of those bad things.

 

But this is fixable.

 

I cannot right a wrong and I cannot unscrew all the screwing … but I can certainly take some steps to insure the next generation is less screwed than the generations we gave screwed to date.

 

I stand by my suggestions I made back in 2009. I would not only insure they had proper food, water & shelter but I would also build programs that insured the children had a chance to break the cycle. http://brucemctague.com/200-years-later-the-american-indian-may-be-partially-unscrewed

 

Money does not solve everything and in this case I don’t want to give anyone money … I want to give them the opportunity to be … well … not just better than their parents <which is what all parents want for their kids> but rather I want them to be better than my parents, your parents and any parents. I want to give them the opportunity to be the best version of who and what they are as a person.

That’s what gets them out of this unfucking believable screwed up situation we created by screwing them.

 

Look.

 

Every once in a while I see an incredibly bad ad, for a very good cause — support justice for Native American tribes, organizations, and individuals – in television.

 

I’m not exactly sure what to make of this strange bad ad.

 

It seems like the purpose is to solicit donations … but I can’t imagine rapping that “…the Indian Wars never ended…” will make very many people sympathetic to what is a significantly underappreciated issue – societally & morally.

 

I would offer to do their marketing for free just because I believe they deserve better and the issue deserves national attention.

 

I imagine my issue with getting this free gig would be, if asked, I would tell them all I would do is show images throughout the history of time leading to indian war fuck columbusthe current situation with a voice over that said:

 

“we were happy … and then you came and screwed us … screwed us some more … figured out how to set up systems to ongoingly screw us … were kind enough to give us citizenship in 1924 <the last ‘minority’ to gain that … albeit we were the original Americans> … you were kind enough to give us some money not long ago to partially unscrew us … but we are still getting screwed. All we want is an opportunity to not get screwed.”  

 

 

<hence the reason I will not get this gig>

 

 

Anyway.

 

As for now … and the native America homeless?

 

=========

 

What’s remarkable about Indian Country’s massive and forgotten housing crisis is that it would not exist if our government and society simply cared enough to devote adequate resources to putting roofs over the heads of people who need and deserve them. The troubling reality is that unless that roof makes someone money, we simply don’t care.

Julian Brave NoiseCat

indians still here

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At some point it would be nice if we could figure out a way to stop screwing the Native American Indians because they will always be here — it is their home.

 

That just doesn’t seem too much to ask.

 

Enlightened Conflict