Meeting is NOT About Technique
I have received an amazing amount of feedback on my piece on Meeting (https://safetyrisk.net/meeting-in-safety-with-no-meeting/ ). So, this blog seeks to extend the discussion a little further.
Ellul’s notion of Technique proposes that any quest for efficiency in relationships leads to dehumanization. When another is constructed as an object in a system (such as in ‘Human Factors’ safety) the prevailing worldview is one of i-it. When others are envisioned (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/envisioning-risk-seeing-vision-and-meaning-in-risk/ ) as subjects NOT objects, there is the possibility of Meeting (i-thou).
Technique needs to be understood as an Archetype to really feel its power and force unto itself. Most are not aware of the principles that control them, they have little time to reflect on such things.
I have written extensively about First Nation people’s approach to knowing (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/the-social-psychology-of-risk-handbook/ pp. 75ff; https://www.humandymensions.com/product/envisioning-risk-seeing-vision-and-meaning-in-risk/ pp.9ff) In Indigenous knowing where dreaming and metaphysics are validated, being is symbolized as Meeting’. We see envisioned in all Indigenous Art an ‘ethic of community’ in relation to Engagement (see Figure One. First Nations Meeting). When Indigenous people think of Meeting, the idea of time constraint and efficiency in the use of time (Technique), are nonsense.
Figure One. First Nations Meeting.
We see in Indigenous art the repetition of cycles, flow, half circles, circles and half-circles facing the centre of another circle. All these dots and circles represent how people ‘face’ each other, a ‘being’ that is oriented towards others. The meaning of the Indigenous word ‘corrobboree’ is Meeting not meeting. If one brings the Technique of time to an Indigenous gathering there will be no Meeting, just meeting.
When White Australians think of history/time they think of 200 years, when First Nations people think of time they think of 85,000 years/eternity.
When time ‘frames’ how one meets, there will not be Meeting. When KPIs ‘frame’ outcomes, conversation and listening are understood as a non-measurable ‘waste of time’.
Listening takes time, telling is quick.
Unfortunately, all of this makes such things as toolbox talks, safety meetings, risk assessments, pre-starts and inductions about the illusion of meeting, when there has been no Meeting. Indeed, Safety simply has no method to counter the methodology of Technique.
This is why in SPoR we have a method to counter Technique that we call ‘iCue’ (https://safetyrisk.net/?s=icue ). SPoR is not about criticism but constructive criticism, it proposes methods to escape from the illusion of meeting.
It’s one thing to recognize how Safety dehumanises persons, and quite another to provide a method to humanize safety, this is what SPoR does.