Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Know Something You Don't Know

In my required workplace leadership training, we did an exercise called the Johari Window. While it sounds like some form of eastern transcendental meditation, it is actually a simple diagram meant to emphasize concepts in interpersonal relationships. One of them is that sometimes other people know you better than you know yourself.

An example of this blind spot is a quote from Daily Show writer Rachel Axler's New York Times article about the travails of the current writers strike:
A man in a suit passes by. He yells, “I hope you all get fired!”

Look — this is weird for us, too, you know. Writers are not a naturally combative species. We’re used to sitting in front of our computers and crying. Fresh air is like poison to us. If protocol didn’t dictate otherwise, it’s very likely we would never wear pants. But we’ve given up our salaries and our jobs — easily the only jobs we’re qualified for — to stand outside and yell at people. So, for the sake of decency, could you please not yell back?
I don't know about you, but I've never found the Daily Show's mostly-political humor to be non-confrontational. Writer's aren't non-combative. They're just passive-aggressive about it. They have that luxury because their words are being delivered by third parties like books or anchormen. But non-combative? Not by a long shot.

This principle is also why I'm skeptical about personality tests. These test what you know or think about yourself. So they're drawing conclusions based on a very subjective data set. They'll probably sound right to you, but whether they correct in an absolute sense is anyone's guess.

An aside, I don't have a lot of sympathy for the writers. Yes they probably deserve an increase in their residuals because the 1985 VHS deal was a poor one. But the WGA is requesting twice the current DVD residual (from ~0.36% to 0.72%) and an electronic media residual of 2.5%(!). The former is probably reasonable, but the latter is ridiculous. They also want jurisdiction over non-union programming like reality TV, animation, and the internet. Also unacceptable. Unions should have to work to unionize a field. When you consider that the other media unions will be making matching demands when their contracts are up, I don't find these demands acceptable.

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