RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
 
 
< Back to front page Text size +

Comics thinking

Posted by Robin Abrahams  February 20, 2008 08:56 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

This cartoon from xkcd is getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere and rightly so--

howitworks.jpg

I almost hate to sully its purity with commentary, but hey, that's how I roll. This particular cartoon is titled, "How It Works." The strip is, I'm happy to say, written by a man--it's nice to feel that someone gets it!

Because this is how prejudice works. And women and minorities know it, too, which means that often we know we're representing not only our own abilities, but those of our entire group. That, my friends, is pressure. And it's why it can be so hard for us, in school or work, to take chances, to push ourselves beyond the comfort level of our abilities, to dare to make mistakes. And without risking failure from time to time, you can't learn.

If you're a teacher or a manager, try to set up an environment where everyone feels free to extend themselves, to risk failure without shame. (Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson has done some terrific work on creating psychologically safe workplaces; here's a link to some user-friendly interviews with and articles about her.) If you are a minority in your discipline or profession, be willing to fight back, explicitly, against the notion that your own mistakes represent systemic inabilities of your entire group--which may require you to do a little inner work to divest yourself of that notion, as well.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
contributor

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

Need Advice?

Curious if you should say "bless you" to a sneezing atheist? How to host a dinner party for carbophobes, vegans, and Atkins disciples—all at the same time? The finer points of regifting? Ask it here, or email missconduct@globe.com.

Ask us a question

Required
Required
archives

Browse this blog

by category