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10/7/10

Rippling Tides

A small ripple is big in a small pond...

I tend to think that things we do, intentional or otherwise, can have an effect even if we realize it or not. If we're in a small group, the impact of small actions is much larger and easier to recognize, if we notice it. For example, a small work group, whether it's an office, machine shop, retail store, mechanic repair place or a banking center, may have three to ten people working there. It only takes one or two, maybe three people, to make the entire place dysfunctional until someone stops buying into it.

Say there are six people working in a place and one or two people have differences in style or opinion on the way things should be done. This causes discomfort and stress on the others but in such a small group, very often the path of least resistance seems to be best course. Except that it leads to a larger dysfunction in the entire group that is uncomfortable for everyone. If only one person doesn't buy into the behavior, by treating everyone and every task consistently and chooses to function without playing into the pattern, change can happen. Perhaps it just one small process that's doesn't have to be done one way or the tone of voice of one person that is the problem.

Choose not to do it that way, as long as what you do instead works or don't respond to the tone except civilly. It's possible, in fact highly probable, that at some point it will be met with resistance by the perpetrators, but usually by this time the others, who are long since tired of the situation, will either obviously or quietly go along with discontinuing the dysfunction. In a small way, you've made a big change in a small group. It's usually not easy to do this and doesn't happen overnight, but well worth the effort.