I work for a large company I believe would benefit from being unionized. I’ve approached the boss about this, but he keeps brushing me off. I am—and want to continue to be—respectful of his place. I also want to pursue unionizing my workplace. Do you have any suggestions about how to get him to listen to me?
Listen to him. It’s unlikely that he didn’t respond at all to you. He probably said something that sounded like a non-response because it wasn’t the response you desired. Let’s imagine a scenario in which you say, “I want to start a union,” and he responds, “We don’t need anything like that.” One translation is that he thinks the status quo is just groovy. That means you need to sell him on the benefits of your venture. Of course, it’s possible he has the flexibility of a titanium rod and will never support a union. But, if you are devoted to fairness (isn’t that the essence of a union?), be certain to keep listening to him even if he stops listening to you. Keep him apprised of your progress as much as is feasible and have endless compassion. After all, if the union roots, he may feel betrayed.
I’m still thinking about your January 23 column. You wrote, “Only a hugely inflated ego would think that it has to teach another person a lesson. Especially when the lesson is designed to force the other person to think more like you think they should.” If I try to make others aware that there are different ways of looking at situations, is that the same? You also wrote that a spiritual teacher’s mind “is in preschool, not grad school.” Can you explain? Also, you told the reader to stop reading self-help books. Isn’t it healthy for people to try to better themselves?
I think nearly all self-help books serve to distract people from real growth and change. Self-help books allow you to consume information but can’t help you integrate it. The result is that people gain a minor amount of knowledge and absolutely no wisdom. Wisdom comes from deeply reflecting (in solitude) on an experience, making conscious choices about how to change and then living differently afterward. Honest self-examination and solitude create wisdom. Self-help books cannot. It’s better to spend the time with a friend or counselor who can point out the hypocrisy between your values and your behavior gently.
The most popular self-help books are written by people who cleverly have culled the words of sages like Henry David Thoreau or St. Francis of Assisi. Why bother with the middleman? Go directly to the source and read Thoreau’s words yourself. Then, do what Thoreau and a handful of others in human history have done. Spend time in solitude (no cell phone, no portable CD player, etc.) with a blank book and immerse yourself in the study of you and your relationship with the divine. If done regularly and with an open heart, it’s humbling. In time, you may share different ways of looking at a situation, but you won’t feel the need to be right. Gradually, your mind streamlines. Your ego’s continual needs, wants, expectations and judgments will attract less of your attention, and you’ll return to preschool basics: playfulness, genuine love, curiosity, naps, quick shifts to forgiveness, startlingly clear insights, simple pleasures and the perfection of life as it is.