Social Learning

Posted by Debby on 15th November and posted in EDC 633

I have had the opportunity to experience social learning in my own workplace. There are three people, in particular, who have had a role in shaping how I deal with situations around me.

The first person is the former academic senate president. She is a very small, slight woman whose physical presence does not necessarily command attention. I have had the chance to observe her many times in different meetings and academic settings. She seems to always take in the information before expressing her own opinion. What I admire most is her ability to express her ideas, sometimes forcefully, always articulately, without ever losing civility and control. She is able to logically defend her position, bring in evidence to support, and deal with unexpected turns with grace and confidence. She never speaks down and never backs down if it is something she believes in. If find myself watching her and wondering if I will ever get to the point where I can do the same thing.
The next person I have had the chance to observe quite a bit is in an office across from mine. He is a soft-spoke, gentle man, a little on the slow side sometimes, but always willing to learn and understand. We are presently working on a grant committee together and some issues are surfacing that disturb many in the group. This man continues to ask questions, always politely, until he is satisfied with the clarity of the answer. He too will stand behind what he feels is right, but is always willing to hear the other side and be open to compromise and collaboration.
Finally, the last person is an older gentleman. He worked at Bakersfield College with my husband’s grandfather, if that is any indication of age. I serve on a district IT committee that he chaired until this current year. I remember thinking when I was first appointed to the committee that this man was a wonderful example of how a committee chairman should conduct himself. He was always able to move the agenda along, recapping important issues that had been brought up before we went to the next item. He seemed to see his role as a facilitator and mediator. He usually waited until everyone has a say before voicing an opinion, and then always did so with great respect for what had been said prior.
I find myself greatly influenced by people like this. I seem drawn to those who are able to be articulate, logical, and who stand behind their values while maintaining civility and grace. I find these types of people much more “powerful” than the ones who act like they know it all, own it all, or control it all. Their quiet authority and leadership does not need to be broadcast. They are able to accomplish much because they don’t spend their time talking about being a leader, they spend their time rolling up their sleeves and leading by example. As I become more involved in the campus “political” scene, I try to use these observations to guide how I interact with others.

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