Pitiful Party Lines & Flying Monkeys

MonGrumpHead“Following the rules” is
probably doing it wrong

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Question Authority

Source: click image

This is not about politics or voting, but I have to start by telling you this:

a life-long grump gets activated every single election period, when politicians rally to regurgitate party line soundbites — on BOTH sides! 

It’s obnoxious.

I am incredulous that we don’t rally en masse to call them on it.

I am dismayed that people continue to vote for these idiots with their formulaic approach to getting elected and staying in office – simply because we have so little choice otherwise.

I really hate it the minute that things get nasty: when they attack by closing ranks to dig in and defend party politics after somebody says or does something stupid – on EITHER side.

That’s NOT the topic of THIS grump, however.

The nasty antics of politicians merely prime my pump and start my engine.

Every single election period, my disgruntlement quickly shifts focus to a more important target for those of us with Executive Functioning struggles: doctors and scientists.

I can’t help it – it’s just the way my brain works.

They are not supposed to be political animals, yet almost ALL of them seem to have pledged allegiance to their equivalent of that “thin blue line” so prevalent on those cop shows we watch like soap operas.


Doctors are supposedly sworn to, first, do no harm.

It seems to me that they must somehow be able to pretend that allowing illogical, or out-of integrity actions of colleagues slide by without censure is not harmful to their patients.

They are wrong.

Scientists are purported to be seekers of truth — it’s supposedly a foundational concept of the scientific method.

Yet in social constructs where group identification runs rampant, they seem to band together against ideas that are “inconsistent with the current body of knowledge in the field.”

2Red_RoverTo me, they seem like a bunch of playground bullies in a mean game of Red Rover.  And it holds science back for YEARS.

That, too, is causes harm: many struggle-on needlessly
as groundbreaking work languishes for years.

I have been privy to far too many examples of the herd dynamic in my career.  So every time I hear of a new example, I get my grump on practically immediately anymore.

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar for a reminder
of how links work on this site, they’re subtle (scroll UP for it) ==>

Source: click imageThink back.

Have you ever heard a doctor or scientist comment negatively about a colleague in a clear manner that doesn’t force you to imagine what they really mean and what they really think?

I have watched a few of the most visible take a stand in an editorial or in a topic-focused book, but NEVER in response to anything reported in their office or in response to a question in a seminar.

I have friends in each field who have PRIVATELY admitted they share my horror at something said or done by a colleague – even though I am sworn to hold our discussion in confidence.

I truly appreciate their honesty, however much I am sworn to silence, because it lets me know that I am not totally off-base in my thinking.

Otherwise I might pull more of my punches myself (and hate myself for it in the morning!)

I see it in the coaching field too

Prison Lockstep

Prison Lockstep

It breaks my heart and makes me furious that the profession I personally gave up practically everything else to establish is teetering on the brink of going down a nasty path.

We seem to be evolving into a profession that, just like those of the doctors and the scientists, is becoming ever-so-careful to avoid breaking ranks, which means NOT ringing in with an opinion that does not toe the party line.

Many too many of us seem, almost, to prefer to march in lock-step, turning on the mavericks who refuse to obey the same unwritten “code”: majority rules and authority enforces — support the members of your profession above all. 

Jump in, like mean girls in a high school bathroom,
to join us in enforcing what we believe is right for the group.

For only one example:

  • EVEN when it is absolutely true, it is actually considered an ethics violation to say to a potential client, “I cannot recommend hiring that particular coach you are considering. They don’t know much of anything about ADD, the brain or executive functioning disorders, and they don’t know that about themselves.” 

HARMFUL (and maddening).
Whatever happened to speaking our truth and respect for those who do?
THAT used to be the prime directive of our field.

  • Even though I do it, I find it difficult, even, to respond to a client reporting something harmful or hurtful said by a former ADD/EFD-clue-free coach with some sort of clean and clear version of the following sentiment:

“I’m so sorry you were beaten up by that poorly informed supposed helping professional.  They are flat out WRONG about what they told you and flat out ‘wronger’ to have said it to you.

In the particular training they chose, they didn’t learn much about how the brain works, so they don’t believe much of what we KNOW to be true because it doesn’t fit with what they were taught.”

I believe that confirmation bias is also part of the dynamic when doctors and scientists close ranks against the people they say they are dedicated to serving – but only part of the problem in any professional group.

Still, it makes me r-e-a-l-l-y grumpy every time I see it.

The use of the wrong set of heuristics is the bigger problem

Source: click image“Heuristics” is a fancy name for the primarily unconscious “rules of thumb” we use to simplify deciding, which helps us make decisions whenever we have incomplete information.

A ‘default’ set of heuristics keeps us from having to stop to consider all of the logical permutations of every single decision we must make in the heat of a moment. It speeds up the process.

It is thought that the heuristic dynamic became part of our “programming” because the faster our cave-ancestors could respond, the more likely they were to stay alive long enough to pass down their genes.

(I’m working on a Series about effective decision-making that will explain heuristics in a bit more depth, but just take a few things on faith for this article, okay?  I simply want you to grok my grump, without going on at length today.)

Three quick points

  1. Thumbs don’t rule. Heuristics don’t generalize across all situations, as much as we wish there could be one set of rules to simplify decision making even further.
  2. Heuristics are specific to certain environments and situations — just like you can’t expect to use the rules of a game of Capture the Flag to help you make a killing at the poker table.
  3. The “environmental situation” always determines how well any particular set of heuristics applies – which will determine how well we can expect them to work for us — AND how much anger is going to come back at us from those who are willing to voice their objections.

In other words, how our actions are received – as well as whether or not they will be “successful” – simply depends on whether the rule of thumb we are using fits the context in which we are using it.

Man-o-man is context overlooked in today’s professional world!

Herd Mentality

Gerd Gigerenzer, author of Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious, asserts that there are several deeply entrenched heuristics that form the basis of human morality, among them:

  1. Don’t break ranks; and
  2. If there is a default, do nothing about it.

The problem comes as a result of the fact that, in today’s world, we are members of many different “ranks,” which means we are at the effect of many different defaults.  And yet most of us proceed as if that were not so — one of the more insidious brands of black and white thinking.

Signing contracts in blood

ALL relationships are a product of a “below the radar” social contract of some sort – which requires a combination of trust and reciprocity.  The effect is magnified in relationships of community.

  • Human beings are drawn to form alliances for protection. We come together with a tacit understanding of the need to trust each other, as members of the same “tribe,” to jointly defend each other against outside attacks
  • One caveman alone didn’t stand much of a chance of surviving, so we have inherited a deep-seated fear of ostracism.
  • We are reluctant to “do unto others” anything we’d hate done to us. Going along with the tribe is self-reinforcing to the extent it usually becomes herd mentality.

The problem comes when we fail to consider the appropriateness of our allegiance to any particular member or clique within the membership before we rush to defend them (or join them) simply because they are part of our “herd.”

Values and Ground Rules

It is unbelievably difficult to override heuristics to engage our critical faculties in real time.

  • We would all be wise to think through the potential situations that are most likely to come up to develop our own set of rules — before we need to employ them.
  • Those “rules of thumb” would eventually become our automatic responses for in-the-moment situations: values-based heuristics.
  • When we don’t think things through in advance, we end up joining the ranks of the prisoners in lock step.

It REALLY makes me grumpy that the definition of “professional” doesn’t seem to include attention to that little detail.

It causes a GREAT deal of harm – and nowhere does the blade cut more deeply than when it is wielded by a doctor, scientist, coach – or any GROUP of Coaches, scientists or doctors!

What happens as a result is just plain wrong.

flying monkeyDon’t make me release the flying monkeys!

They get REAL specific,
and they name NAMES.

Let’s hear it from YOU

I invite you to dump YOUR Monday grumps and gripes
in the comment section below each of my own – related or NOT.

I would love to hear where YOU stand where going along to get along is concerned –
ESPECIALLY if you are a coach or other helping professional.

As long as you don’t make individual people wrong, and do your best to avoid the dreaded “should” word, I will approve all comers (link-spammers shot on sight, however).

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

2 Responses to Pitiful Party Lines & Flying Monkeys

  1. janetkwest says:

    i don’t know about your field but I’ve seen it in the field of nutrition. They get tooth and claw nasty.


    • Crappy, isn’t it Janet?

      I have a long-time friend who is a confidant, and his comments are SCATHING about some of the things I reveal.

      The thing is, it is t-totally out of integrity for anyone in my field to do anything but “stand for” in situations where they feel called to attack. So it breaks my heart to hear the “mean girls in the bathroom” ganging up like bullies rather than COACHING!

      I feel like my mother must have when she heard that the teen of a good friend of hers was shoplifting.
      She knew she had to do SOMETHING, but she wasn’t sure how to handle it without sounding “off” somehow.

      I hoped to let a bit of pressure out of my cooker so I could noodle things in a calmer state — praying that they will come to their senses and work it out without a direct comment from me or anyone else.

      It’s not really my job (or my place) to coach uninvited, but I have never been able to stand idly by when things are just flat out wrong. I have frequently put a target on my own back defending someone else who was targeted, which means that then my only alternative is to wait for the storm to pass. Running out of waiting time as I get older – and patience.

      I know myself well, however — I won’t be able to remain in the field if it keeps going in the direction it is currently headed. Not sure where I’ll jump next, but I just can’t stand for a field that won’t stand for all its members.

      And BOY does that make me grumpy!

      Thanks for reading (and commenting).


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