Entries in reciprocity (2)


Patterns of reciprocity, authenticity, and justice

Life emerges and evolves as people come and go, as we learn more about ourselves and others, and as our environment changes.  So we could not create patterns once and expect them to continue.  Patterns emerge and exist only as long as the conditions exist to hold them in place.  They wax and wane as the conditions of the environment shift.  The generative engagement model represents one picture of a point in time.  In any given point in time, we can be generating shared patterns of reciprocity, authenticity, and justice.  Then something will shift and the patterns will begin to change. 

To sustain a pattern, we have to be constantly vigilant to continue to generate the right conditions, even as the environment changes.  All we can do is consider them in every action we take and in every decision we make.  In our organizations, communities and families, we create expectations and structures—policies and procedures, rules and laws—that support those considerations in individual and group actions.

How often, how well can we create these patterns in real life?  Can we build a world where this is how people interact?  What Mary and I believe is that it’s a choice we can make.  These are the patterns we want to work toward.  Every moment of interaction has this choice.


Exploring possible patterns and patterns of possibility

What patterns might be generated if conditions for generative engagements mentioned in the previous post are established? We add our thinking about possible patterns to the model here:

Reciprocity – When power is shared, each participant can influence others, even as he/she is open to being influenced.  Power has nothing to do with authority or position or accountability.  The “boss” can be influenced by employee input; children can influence their parents.

When power is shared inside a common identity, people work toward shared goals or outcomes.  They give each other support, feedback, and energy as they contribute skills and knowledge for the good of the whole.  Simultaneously they receive support, feedback, and energy as they accept others’ contributions of skills and knowledge.

Authenticity – When people grant and generate voice inside a shared identity, they bring their whole selves.  They can be honest about who they are and what they need.  They give fully of themselves, creating space for others to be authentic. 

This doesn’t grant license to be tyrannical, demanding one’s needs be met.  Balance must exist between granting and generating voice inside shared identity.  If I demand my needs be met at the expense of others, I am neither generating voice others can hear, nor am I granting voice to their needs.  If I demand my needs be met at the expense of others, I’m counting my goals and identity as separate from others’.

Justice – When people allow themselves to be influenced by others and grant and generate voice, they generate patterns of justice in their relationship. If my needs influence your decisions, and if you acknowledge me when I express myself, you’re being fair with me.  If I allow your needs to influence me and I acknowledge you, justice is the pattern. 

We think of justice as mutual fairness—people get what they need and are allowed to contribute as they can.