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August 10, 2007

on trust and systemic issues


I woke up this morning freaking out that I've shared my current work with someone who may actually "steal" my ideas. I've sent the paper I wrote for Critical Link 5 to four people (one academic, two interpreters from the European Parliament, and a fellow graduate student). It is the academic I'm worried about - only because weeks have passed, and a few emails from me, and no acknowledgement (yet).

My first wave of concern occurred within a few days of sending my article (per request of this academic) on July 25. I had just officially submitted it by the CL5 deadline of July 20, 2007.

Much has been happening in certain areas of my personal life that may incline me toward more suspiciousness than usual: I actually hope this is a case of paranoid transference! Then, this morning's headline story from The New York Times gave me more reason to consider external influences:

“Trust was shaken today,” said Thomas Mayer, the chief European economist at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt. “Credit depends on trust. If trust disappears, then credit disappears, and you have a systemic issue.”

I know it seems like quite a stretch, but I can imagine my whiff of fearfulness as an example of social metonymy. Here I am in my own private little bubble of "steph-ness", dealing with the current challenges and changes washing through my life, and sensing amorphous "things".... am I picking up on a general gestalt (such as the worldwide grief - that I was surprised to share so intensely - when Princess Di was killed) and importing it into the particular performance of my own being?

I witnessed a clear instance of social metonymy the other day, observing a group during a staff meeting. The newest member of the business happened to be the last person to have a turn during the warm-up/check-in activity. I was amazed at how leisurely the group was at filling each other in on their family lives, personal successes, and rewarding experiences from the office. No one seemed bored! There was a palpable sense of caring and acceptance, indicated mostly through humor and teasing, but also through thoughtful follow-up questions and visible signs of affirmation (the nonverbals of eye contact, body posture, and nodding). The last person spoke of the warm welcome and supportive environment, sharing their decision to use this workplace as a site where (my paraphrase) "I can be me." The accumulation of individual performances of "self" in this workgroup have created a collective culture that this newcomer was able not only to say (as in describe) but to actually embody, to enact with heartfelt sentiment. The clarity of integration between intention, action, and language about the intentions and actions shows how well this person will fit into the group (a confirmation of the interview/hiring process).

Dang neat stuff, if you ask me. :-)

Posted by Steph at August 10, 2007 7:54 AM


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