Ethical enrollment

May 7, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Posted in Blogroll, Practice Excellence | 1 Comment

Enrollment is a powerful tool to influence other people towards our point of view. Like any tool, it is a double-edged sword. It can be used to win over another person or it can be used to manipulate him or her.

Recently I came across a good coverage of this aspect in an article by Daryl Conner at http://changethinking.net/the-ethical-ploy/the-five-elements-of-%E2%80%9Cvirtuous-trickery%E2%80%9D Here are a few quotes from the article which highlight what ethical enrollment is all about.

Ethical enrollment doesn’t overtly force or covertly manipulate anyone into thinking or doing anything. It is a way of opening doors, not pushing people through them.

Ethical enrollment is an approach to influencing others that requires being less than fully transparent, yet it is principled. It requires that we believe the new perspective we are promoting represents a positive opportunity for the other person. Even though there may be advantages for us if he or she accepts the new viewpoint, our motives are not primarily self-serving. We are honestly offering something that we believe is in this person’s best interest. It requires respecting the person’s right (despite our efforts) to being unready or unwilling to accept our point of view. Just because we show people doors doesn’t mean they are ready to go through them.

When we meet other people’s needs and respect the sovereignty of their viewpoint, we increase the likelihood that we can meet our own agenda of changing their minds. Once people feel their needs are being met, we can be more direct about our intentions without offending or appearing to be pushing our perspective. The key when using ethical enrollment is to keep in mind that, in spite of how passionately we believe in our own frame of reference, others will not come to accept our views unless and until they are ready to do so.

This is a much more mature and balanced approach than manipulating people to get acceptance of our views under the cover of enrollment and has a higher chance of success.

In the light of the above, let me give some examples of what I consider to be an unethical enrollment. I have heard three terms, patriotism discipline and loyalty, often used to brainwash a person into accepting a viewpoint out of fear of looking bad.

Though patriotism is commonly used in the context of a nation, the underlying belief is that interests of a larger system like a nation are always more important than those of the smaller systems like a family or an organization. But this is not always true. Sometimes, an individual is needed more by a smaller system than a larger one.

The way discipline is used for enrollment often means that whatever a group has decided must be accepted by every member. Some decisions do need universal acceptance by every member. However, there are situations where the group is not adversely affected even if a few members who are not convinced of the decision decide to act otherwise.

Loyalty comes from the expectation “I have done this for you in the past; now it is your duty to do what I want you to do for me”. This is often seen in parent-child or employer-employee relationships. It typically one sided because what was done in the past was on the assumption “I know what is good for you and there is no need to ask or even check”.

When faced with such situations an individual is in a dilemma how to respond. If he succumbs he suffers; if he does not he falls in the eyes of others. Systems thinking can provide clarity by removing the cobwebs. Every living entity, which has a lifecycle of its own, is a complete system in itself. In that sense every individual, every family, every organization and every nation is a system. Such systems interact with each other on an equal no system is part of another system and has a right and responsibility to look after its interests.

Though each system is independent, it is not isolated. It is closely connected with other systems. Hence, in the short run it can get away with looking after its own interests at the cost of others. In the long run, it has got to consider and care for other systems’ interests.

When viewed from system’s perspective the dilemma dissolves. The power to influence and unethically enroll others, hiding behind high sounding terms, is lost and the individual feels free to take right decision without any guilt. So it pays to stick to ethical enrollment for effective and sustained results.

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1 Comment »

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  1. Your thoughts and the thoughts Daryl Conner are interesting. Without realizing, either we are doing ethical enrollment on others (to some extent) or get ouselves enrolled or both. This is surely a very good technique to succeed.

    Higher the trust others bestow on a person, more chances of he/she getting success in this enrollment.


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