In everyday life the brain processes information according to a logical subconscious code, even in the simplest of operations such as identifying an object. The brain might perceive a box in its first stage of its analysis, in which the neurons will transmit observations to the brain. This in turn stimulates reflection about whether it is simply an empty box or whether it may have some type of content. The brain will answer this question in attempt to come up with a theory of what may be the in the box given certain clues and knowledge acquired during it’s reflection.
If the box had small holes on its surface one might theorize that there is a living being in the box because of their need for oxygen. In many cases of a common object, the brain might not put in question its theory but in some less obvious cases or simply to be rigorous in its analysis, may decided to rely on hard evidence provided through experimentation to come to a final conclusion. More formally the cyclic process of observing, reflecting, theorizing and experimenting is known as the learning cycle.
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This processes is applicable in forming a more complete understanding of one’s behaviors in specific circumstances. Observation In the OB interactive, which took place at 6:05 P. M on a Tuesday, I made an insightful observation about my own behavior within the setting of a team. We were all placed in ALT groups randomly with people whom we had only know for a period of 5 weeks and asked to perform various group tasks every week. In this particular interactive on Tuesday October 9th we were initially in a large circular seating formation.
As such we were given a handout on which items astronauts make use of during a lunar exploration were listed. We were given 5 minutes to individually rank these items according to their relative importance in the event that the space shuttle landed 320 km off target and that we could only take a limited amount of them along with us. After we had ranked them individually we were asked to summon into our respective ALT groups. A competitive atmosphere arose as we all stood up, crossed the room and gathered in our assigned corner.
The task at hand was the same as the individual one but this time we would have to decide on the order of the items with a good group discussion. A crucial point in my observation was that almost instantly as I sat down within the group circle, I leaned forward and took control of the team. I made an attempt to stimulate a group discussion by asking the group what they had ranked as the first on the list. This didn’t stimulate much discussion as we all had marked down the same item. As we worked our way up the list conflict arose as the team started to differ in their opinions.
I began to impose my opinion upon the rest of the group by explaining the rational logic behind every choice I made. One of the group members intervened and tried to establish a discussion by giving his point of view but this issue was quickly glossed over. I wasn’t taking in account the opinions of the other fellow members of the team and thus the goal of the team shifted to my personal one. I had noticed that my fellow members weren’t pleased with my taking control but instead of raising this point nothing was said.
They remained silent and followed my lead to avoid conflict. Reflection The on-hand issue is multifaceted. The source of the problem comes both from myself as well as from the team members. When I was taking control I felt a strong need to outscore the other teams and it was pure determination that drove me. The other team members, who seemed to be more laid back and somewhat indifferent towards the final result of the given assignment, did not feel this determination. We didn’t share the same goal and I believe this had a negative impact.
The other team members probably felt that my excessive competitive spirit was uncalled for and even somewhat annoying. Moreover from the moment I sat down in the team circle I had made up negative judgments about the fellow teammates. I believed whether falsely justified or not that they were not well informed about the given topic and that their contributions would be unhelpful towards improving the work I had done individually. The tone I used while explaining my point of view might have subconsciously been aggressive, because of the preset judgments I had made.
When listening to one group member’s rebuttal to my argument I felt somewhat annoyed inside, because his argument was not well founded in my opinion. Although I had helped them all bring down their overall score in the exercise the group was not satisfied. In the end regardless of the outcome it is undisputable that we were all frustrated. The reason this experience had a large impact on me is largely linked to the realization of the way the group members perceived me due to the way I acted and the judgments I had made about them. Had I been in their position and someone cted as I did, I would have felt to the say the least appalled, deprived of my opinions and unappreciated. My perception of the leader would be that he is a controlling dictator. Such negative feelings are unpleasant for anyone and lead to counter cohesiveness of the group. This in turn will lead to a less effective and frustrated team. These perceptions that the team members had about me as well as the unsatisfied group that resulted from my over controlling, lead me to the insightful realization that I was wrong in suppressing their opinions. Theorization
To give a more structured understanding of my observed experience one can attribute my behaviors to perceptual errors. In particular one can use the notion of projection. Projection states that one is likely to judge others on the assumption that they are similar to us. Projection will lead us to falsely perceive someone most of the time, because assuming that everyone is similar to us is a false generalization. According to this theory when one projects themselves on others and the subject is in fact similar we will make positive judgments about this individual.
The inverse relationship is also true, when projection is present and the person we are judging has different characteristics than us, the judgments tend to be negative. In the larger sense, people engaging in projection, will find it difficult to overcome personal differences. In the particular observation projection is very present. Especially in team settings as explained in my observation I tend to be very competitive, because I have high need for achievement. I often expect my team members to share this same competitive mindset due to projection.
Since this wasn’t the case I made negative judgments about them, believing they were unmotivated and took it even further to the point where I believed they were not well informed about the topic and would not be helpful in solving the given problem. These judgments must have been due to projection, since they are by no means founded on any concrete evidence. This perceptual error is no more than the name indicates it, an error. By setting judgments about my peers I was unable to reach past personal differences and thus creating a barrier in promoting cooperation.
The intervention of every member of the group is the essential backbone of creativity that drives teams to be successful. Experimentation Having had this insightful experience it is important to apply a strategy to avoid the same error in similar future events. What I have drawn from this analysis is that my projection error was the main factor behind my controlling behavior towards my team. In similar situations in the future I would continue to be intrinsically motivated while this time avoiding my perceptual errors due to projection.
Something that will help me effectively measure whether I am successfully avoiding the same error would be refrain myself from talking to allow people to express their opinions. This would allow them to express themselves rather than staying silent. An experiment that I could carry out would be to give myself a challenge in taking on a gate keeping role to make sure everyone has had their turn to speak up. This would most probably result in a more complete appreciating of other opinion, a phenomenon diverging from projection.
To furthermore enforce a good group discussion one could potentially select a member to be the devil’s advocate. This would make it easier for team members to effectively show signs of disagreement. Through a complete “rotation” of the learning cycle I was able to take a routine observation that may have seemed quite mundane and recurrent in my dealings and narrow down the reason for such behavior within a group setting to a concrete source. This in turn allowed me to establish an action plan to avoid the error from repeating itself in the future.