The perils of projection

It is interesting thinking back to the Thatcher era and how polarised we became. You can see it happening now online with the news of her death. You can see the same thing watching the current conservative government demonising people. Whether it is immigrants, skivers, it is always “them”. 

We fall into the same trap in organisations. Management are always dealing with “them” – employees, time wasters, even antagonistic customers. We distance ourselves from these others yet we define them on the basis of our worst fears – whether these fears are justified or not. We make sweeping generalisations and write off whole sections of society. 

If we do this for long enough “they” get used to it and expect it. We allow “them” to wait for “us” to sort things and then we resent their dependence on us. We create a dependence culture both in society at large and in our organisations. But this allows us all to stay comfortable, to project our worries onto those around us, to stay stuck.

We need go grow up. We need to understand our projections and take responsibility for them. We need to stop thinking in terms of “us” and “them” and think more of “us”. We need to think for ourselves and think of each other rather than for each other. We need to help each other to grow up. 

5 thoughts on “The perils of projection

  1. There is some research in psychology pertainig to (racial) stigmatisation that also probably applies here. I think more than just that "they get used to it", "they" believe themselves to be victims and therefore not empowered to change things.

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  2. Us/them is something that I see in many places. Was it less before, or was it just that I was younger so I didn’t see it as much? In any case the us/them is not helpful – on many levels. The question is how do we grow up from that? What can motivate compassion, or willingness to see multiple perspectives. I recall community boards for conflict resolution but that only addresses when things have gotten to the point of escalated conflict – and only works if people are already willing to participate.

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  3. Is it that, as with so many things, the Internet is making our foibles more visible – and therefore more readily dealt with? I reckon as more people spend more time even in things like Facebook they will learn as those of us did in the early days of community boards.

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