Re: Agencies/markup/etc. (kinda long)

Subject: Re: Agencies/markup/etc. (kinda long)
From: "Donald T. Robertson" <drobertson -at- NM-US -dot- CAMPUS -dot- MCI -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 23:13:36 -0500

Jim Chevallier wrote:

>My own analysis of this was that people in an artistic environment KNOW their
>ideas are subjective, and so are often more tolerant. Technical people,
.because they use logic and their own sub-set of the 'facts', often are
>convinced their answer is the only one possible, and are correspondingly less
>tolerant of other views. Forgetting that both logical processes and
>individual experience can vary.

Like many (if not most) on the TECHWR-L list, I have a hard technical
background: Ph.D. physical organic chemistry. My experience with techie
types like myself is that we tend to be much more task-oriented individuals
than those who have backgrounds in the humanities (e.g., artists,
musicians). Consequently, we are often unaware of how our demeanor affects
others. (I'll bet there's a whole bunch of analyticals on this list who
feel that things just "have to be right"!) I don't know if you were a
subscriber then, but a few months ago, there were many messages about how
this list tended to be less tolerant, and more prone to barbequing posters,
than most other listservs. I actually didn't think it was all that bad
until I started reading those posts.

Speaking for myself, I've often ignored the feelings of others and focused
on issues or facts themselves, rather than on how those issues or facts
related to the person(s) involved, and particularly how individuals related
to other indivuduals. I think this idea of relationships may be the key:
task-oriented individuals (subconciously) discount the interpersonal
aspects of things, while people-oriented individuals appreciate, even
nurture, relationships. ( I've had to learn to be more people-oriented to
save my marriage and keep my kids from hating me. My newly developed
skills have helped immensely at work too. I still have a long way to go,
though.) So, I'm not so sure that technical people are less tolerant of
other views than anyone else (I think we're highly tolerant, in fact,
always looking for more data), it's just that we probably don't relate to
other people all that well. I think we lack a lot of the
social/interpersonal skills that seem to come naturally to others (like my
younger son). Thus, we come across as inflexible and highly critical.

I think something else needs to be kept in mind also. Task-oriented
individuals tend to need more data than most others, and we're picky about
how those data are collected, analyzed, and interpreted. We do not like
surprises, we do not like to be wrong, and we're forever striving for
respect. So, if you have an opinion, you'd better have thought it through
carefully, presented it flawlessly, and documented it ten ways from
Tuesday! We tend to have little tolerance for those who don't do their

I'm not saying that these attitudes should be condoned. They can't really
be condoned, not to any significant extent, because we all live in a
community of people, we all need to develop and nurture relationships, we
all need to appreciate each other and each others' skills, each others'
level of excellence. Taking a lesson from the ecologists, we all need to
appreciate, and protect, diversity. Just understand that some professions
attract a higher proportion of task-oriented individuals, such as technical
writing, science, and engineering.


Don R.


Don Robertson "Obstacles are those frightening
drobertson -at- nm-us -dot- campus -dot- mci -dot- net things you see when you take your
eyes off the goal." - Unknown


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