I have wanted to do a post about Hanlon's Razor for a while and the mask issue has led to me combining that here. Our non verbal communication being misinterpreted or misunderstood should not be considered intentional.
I have now taught almost every day for 3 months. This is unusual on 2 fronts. Firstly I had never meant to do so many training days in any given month and secondly that we had just finished a full lockdown at the end of June. It was a bit weird being in the world suddenly as, like some readers I was shielding someone in my household prior to that point.
There have been some interesting things occur in regards to teaching in this confusing time. Including for example matters such as on day 1 (of a 3 day course) everyone sits with masks on very clearly sticking to the guidance that is in place as best we can. Then by the time they have managed to get to day 3 they all seem to be too familiar with each other and on breaks I notice sometimes, despite mask-wearing being mentioned, lots if not all the group are passed caring and will sit and converse without the masks. This was not an issue in England while we had a 1metre rule however in the same timeframe in Wales the rule was 2metres and people behaved in the same manner whichever country they were in (our COVID policy is enforced during the teaching components).
Despite all this, I wanted to talk about masks. This is because the non-verbal communication we pick up is generally taken for granted, this pandemic is assisting people to notice some issues around communication. How much of the communication you perceive is connected to lip reading?
I need to listen well so that I hear what is not said. - Thuli Madonsela
I certainly struggle more than I thought I would, hearing people speak who are on the other side of the room talking in their normal low voice. There is an expectation that the lack of understanding I end up having around a conversation is my fault. Yet this does not happen with a loud voice, male loud voices are easiest in my experience.
Therefore it is prudent to discuss at the start of training that I will not always hear your comments and that you may need to move your head when you speak so that we know it is you rather than it could be any one of the 4 people sitting near you.
If you think I have not heard your point as I do not acknowledge it or do not answer it then please mention this as early as possible. You are responsible for your communication and also your emotions. If you feel I am not responding in the manner you believe I should then we should first teach Hanlon's Razor earlier on the course.
Hanlon’s Razor states that we should not attribute to malice that which is more easily explained by stupidity. In a complex world, using this model helps us avoid paranoia and ideology. By not generally assuming that bad results are the fault of a bad actor, we look for options instead of missing opportunities. This model reminds us that people do make mistakes. It demands that we ask if there is another reasonable explanation for the events that have occurred. The explanation most likely to be right is the one that contains the least amount of intent.
Parrish, Shane. The Great Mental Models Volume 1: General Thinking Concepts (p. 171). Latticework Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.