An interesting thing happened the other day on my morning walk with my human partner. A woman walked toward us with headphones plugged in to some electronic device. My human partner said “Good Morning” to her, but we received no acknowledgement whatsoever. My partner said: “She must not be a dog person.” Now, I candidly think we both knew her lack of basic courtesy had nothing to do with her dog orientation. She was simply too plugged in and disconnected from the world around her to see her human and canine neighbors.
The “dog person” comment really got me thinking. Is the human population divided into “dog people” and “cat people” factions? While I believe the dog people have it right, I know many canine colleagues who have lived in families with members of the feline persuasion. They say that their lives are actually enriched by getting a different perspective and that their kitty clan members excel at some activities. By combining their diverse talents and strengths[FN], they enhance the success of the team.
According to my dictionary, a faction is “a party, combination or clique often contentious, self-seeking, or reckless of the common good.” Sadly, the world is burdened by innumerable manmade factions that prevent people from seeing the perspective and valuable contributions of those who are different. We hear daily reports of all sorts of factions that are clearly not serving the common good.
Do you have factions in your workplace? Before you answer “no”, dig a little more deeply into your office culture. Do you draw lines between the “bean counters” and “the product guys”, or the “old timers” and the “new kids”? Salaried vs. hourly employees? Home office vs. the field? How about a group of men that go to lunch regularly and never invite their female colleagues to join them? Do you hold group meetings without including your administrative support? You might answer that the “others” would not be interested in joining you but this would not pass the sniff test to me. Maybe you are not interested in what they have to say, or worse yet, you don’t want to deal with the new challenges that their ideas or concerns might create.
That’s the danger of factions. You are affirmed by the people around you who share your ideas. You might not see emerging changes and challenges that none of you know about. When it comes to new perspectives and different ideas you are like the lady walking with the headphones: plugged in to what you want to hear and tuned out to what’s coming at you.
My challenge to you is to reach outside your comfortable group and include someone who may differ from you. Ruffle some fur! Shake things up a little! You will learn something new.
In this spirit of inclusion I am reaching out to my feline readers and their friends. Send me a cat photo to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will post it in this blog. I am starting with photos of two of my favorite readers.
Your best friend,
[FN] We dogs specialize in premises security and personal protection, while the stealthy felines are superior rodent exterminators.