The Shame Game

Shame On You
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How often do you have that feeling that you haven’t given something your full attention or that you’ve let the responsibility of fulfilling a task fall to others rather than taking the lion’s share of the work? The Facebook group in which you were supposed to respond to as colleagues

How often do you have that feeling that you haven’t given something your full attention or that you’ve let the responsibility of fulfilling a task fall to others rather than taking the lion’s share of the work? The Facebook group in which you were supposed to respond to as colleagues swiftly engage in expressing their viewpoint on a project; or the google doc which was shared so that a decision could be made regarding an internal issue – there is that pressure to be involved and have a presence in a discussion in which, by obligation, you should show interest.

 

The psychological game play that occurs online is less overt than the latest ‘trolling’ trend, nor is it a form of virtual bullying. The guilt or shame associated lies with the individual. It is their conscience which is being played upon. Owning one’s emotional response to external factors is important when engaging with others – especially if you want a positive response. Nobody has the power to make ‘you feel’ a certain way, but rather ‘you’ control the feeling in how you respond. The cognitive process that underlies our thinking – particularly in group scenarios – is highly relevant when collaborating positively.

 

Some organisations, or businesses, as well as individuals rely on projecting guilt, duty or obligation as a primary means to motivate others. Healthy? Perhaps not, but there is the argument that “Apathy is not a result of bad members, it’s a result of uninspired leadership”. Despite the negative connotations of shame, it is undoubtedly a powerful motivator. It works. If we make someone feel obligated to do something, it becomes hard for them to refuse. The problem is that it’s inherently manipulative, and it does not build positive feelings toward the user or your organisation. You can use it sometimes, but if it’s the only tool in your motivational arsenal, you’ll end up with a lot of angry, unmotivated members who resent you and your organisation.

 

Our desire to collaborate with ‘like-minded’ individuals is a key feature of Innovation – yet therein lies the overall success: the individual ‘want’ to engage. Is it fair to ask, why participate if the impetus is not there? The herd mentality is not a new sociological phenomenon, the security in numbers is that those weaker are protected by the stronger members of the group. This is applicable in the context of certain scenarios but this should be offset by the capacity to play to one another’s strengths. Without the balance of shared individual contribution – it is no longer a group experience but is divided between those that do, and those that don’t…

 

For the leaders, followers, passive participants and mobilises please share your thoughts: Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs all applicable – or just leave a comment here.